This is a series of thirteen small installations that give physical form to my interpretation of a Wallace Stevens poem, “Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird.” The work includes kinetic sculptures, fans, posters, maps, soil samples, shadow puppets and audio tracks. A unique feature is that the gallery is completely dark and the viewer is able to experience the exhibition only via headlamps (provided). There are additionally two audio tracks that provide the sounds of groundhogs, my mimicry of those sounds, and the calls of crows.
Tunnelworks: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Groundhog, is a sculptural interpretation of a poetic interpretation (by Wallace Stevens) of human thought processes and myriad understandings of our place (or places) in the universe—it is an abstraction of an abstraction. Stevens used the blackbird as signifier, while I chose the groundhog—both species are familiar, common, and possess wisdom.
I created 3D/4D vignettes as Stevens created his verses—we both use short, somewhat enigmatic presentations that are similar to haiku or Zen koans. My interpretive assemblages take the viewer physically through thirteen verses intended to provoke self-questioning. While the headlamps are instruments of focus and elucidation, they also allow viewers to free themselves from distraction while they engage with their own interpretation of the concepts introduced. The groundhog becomes signifier for multiple complex entities, including: our intellect, our notion of self, Freud’s trinity of the conscious mind, Taoist notions of kinship in nature, quantum mechanical superposition, the many worlds theory, Plato’s allegory of the cave, and human mortality.