Photo courtesy Staten Island Arts
The Great Richmond
Staten Island Ferry Terminal
“The Great Richmond began as a happy coincidence. I had proposed a sculptural project transforming Staten Island into a game-based interactive diagram, Neil Greenberg had proposed a mapping project that looked at the the desires of the inhabitants and the urban possibilities of the island. We were paired up and decided to make a game that allowed the viewer to present their desires diagrammatically and opened up the possibility of utilizing what was simultaneously a data set and an abstract sculpture to generate hypothetical maps. It was a game to generate alternate realities. Over the three months that the sculpture and the accompanying maps were on display, thousands of visitors streamed through the space and moved the pieces. Often they spent time considering the significance of the pieces and what relationships and meanings would be created through specific placement, sometimes, especially with the smaller visitors, the choice of piece and placement was purely an aesthetic decision, but the different signs and symbols within the sculptures still resonated with each other, transmogrifying with every new arrangement. Being allowed to handle the pieces also had an effect on the viewer. They were part of the sculpture as well, and the pieces they chose to hold and place were usually referential to something in their personalities. They also touched the prices and positioned them in ways I would never have imagined, and they formulated ideas and opinions graphically and sculpturally that evoked a John Cage-ian appropriation of the creative process by someone other than the artist(s). I think after the initial wariness inherent in letting others play with the pieces wore off, Neil and I thoroughly enjoyed watching thousands of visitors to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal make our art for us."—W.C.