Preliminary Proposal: Community Art Project for All Pilgrims Christian Church

Preliminary sketch
Preliminary sketch

This is a proposal for a sculptural video installation in which abstracted video images (with accompanying audio) would be projected upon life-size figurative mesh-forms, suspended from the ceiling in either the Sanctuary or Fellowship Hall. My idea is to have guests of the community suppers, which All Pilgrims co-sponsors, tell their own stories of past, present, and future.

Preliminary sketch; Figure  detail
Preliminary sketch; Figure detail

One possibility is to call it “Confessions,” after St. Augustine’s famous book, in which he wrote:

“Perhaps it might be said rightly that there are three times: a time present of things past; a time present of things present; and a time present of things future. For these three do coexist somehow in the soul, for otherwise I could not see them. The time present of things past is memory; the time present of things present direct experience; the time present of things future is expectation.”

Rather than a literal “confession” of sins, I see this as an opportunity for expression of where one sees oneself in life through Augustine’s anchor of the present.

Through this installation, participants can reflect on the past, report on the “time present of things present,” and project themselves into the future. Intentionally, the potentially unsettling nature of the stories of those who are possibly marginalized will be shown upon pristine, generic forms, conveying the idea that there is both a universality of a particular individual’s plight—and a universality of their hopes. The project will shed a literal light on the struggles of vulnerable populations, and transform personal experiences into a collective one for both the initial creators—the storytellers—and subsequently viewers.

Video imagery for the project could either be collected in “Confessionals” (such as the booths in Roman Catholic churches) in the Fellowship Hall and/or by participants using their smartphones other devices out in the community. The video imagery would be distorted, abstracted, as a result of the projection process and the shape of the mesh-forms; individual identities would not be apparent. Voices, though, might identify individuals, so the voice recordings might need to be altered to assure anonymity, or we could request permission for their unmodified use. Having participants sign a release form would have to be mandatory either way. Assuring that the project be as broadly based as possible is important, as it validates the claim for it being both by the community and for the community.

Due to light levels, a project like this would look best during the darker months or at night. Video projections would be nearly invisible when ambient light levels are high. An option would be to cover windows with something to reduce light transmission. That would allow viewing during worship times, for instance. The length of the exhibition should be several months so as to reach the largest possible audience.

I obviously have an image of this project in my mind’s eye, yet this the visual manifestation of it, not the entire meaning or context. I want to collaborate, to foster an environment of cooperation that ultimately creates the work of art. Might we have a musical, liturgical, or performance component, for instance, or link the project to broader community outreach goals?

Thank you for considering my initial concept for “Confessions.” I look forward to your comments.

3 thoughts on “Preliminary Proposal: Community Art Project for All Pilgrims Christian Church”

  1. Good to see the visuals added here, Mike! Perhaps also or later on include some interior shots of the church so viewers can imagine what it might be like?

  2. Great idea. I’ll take my good camera to church and get some shots to use as background images upon which I can superimpose some of the figures in the sketches.

  3. I like the general concept very much: telling people’s stories through abstracted video images. It is creative, connective, innovative, highly engaging, and potentially powerful. Important to me will be to develop this overall visual concept with the considerations you raise in your last paragraph – especially “linking this project to broader community outreach goals.” I would like to set a time to meet with you to discuss and collaborate regarding the project’s further development. I look forward to it very much. I will send you an email with potential meeting dates. Thank you very much for your thoughtful work on this initial proposal.

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