Site Unseen (Fluid Bodies)

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Gahlberg Gallery, Arts Center, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Materials & Dimensions:
Pond mud, pond water, 5x magnifier loupes, wood, blue pencil
10 feet high x 15 feet wide x 60 feet long

There are ten ponds on the College of DuPage campus. Most people are unaware of their presence due to the flat topography of the campus. The installation used the gallery as a frame to map the ponds and their relationships to each other.

Nine of the ponds were painted on the long wall of the gallery. They were drawn to scale (1/4” = 1’) and in the order they occur from east to west on campus. The pond silhouettes were rendered in a translucent stain made from bottom mud gathered from each. The ponds’ east-west axes were all on a horizontal median, progressing from the pond furthest east on the right, to the pond furthest west on the left. Each pond had a sediment of a different color than all the others. The largest pond, the Art Center pond, was represented at the same scale on the floor by a masonite tile grid that corresponded to the grid of the floor tile. This grid surface was raised from the floor at 1/4” = 1’ to show the maximum depth of the pond (11 ft.) in relation to its surface expanse. A thin layer of the mud from the bottom of the pond was poured on the grid to dry and crack over the course of the exhibition.

On the short wall at the end of the gallery opposite the main entrance, the water of each pond was contained in 5X magnifier loupes on shelves that corresponded in level to each other according to the water level of the given pond within the larger landscape. This was at a scale of 1” = 1’. The Art Center pond level, as the standard, established the median line, drawn in blue, from which the various shelves diverged. Beneath each loupe, so that it could be seen through the water within, was a silhouette of the given pond painted in its mud.

Finally, linear silhouettes on the wall around the loupes represented birds that had been recorded nesting around the ponds over a thirty-year period. The birds were drawn in proportion to each other, using a scale of 1/4” = 1”.

Thus, a composite view was revealed within the gallery that cannot be seen outside because the fluid bodies of water, water organisms, and birds seen depicted exist in different positions spatially and temporally relative to ourselves and to the direction of our attention. This view was available at all times of day because the long hall-side wall of the gallery is glass.