INBOUND: HOUSTON [then]
In late fall of 2009, I presented my largest public art piece to date—Inbound: Houston. With the assistance of a Creative Capital Foundation grant and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, I converted 13 billboard advertisements on Houston’s freeways to photographic representations of the landscape that exists directly behind the billboard structures. These billboards aimed to engage daily commuters, to surprise and “awaken” them on their journey to work. They attempted to link commuters to their immediate surroundings, through the landscape in their fields of vision or by simply prompting the realization that what is presumed (billboards are for advertisements) may not always be the case.
The hope was for my billboard “ads” to counter the structures’ usual function: urging the purchase of advertised products or services in the future. These repurposed billboards allowed commuters to glimpse an alternate reality (and created, at times, an uncanny and surrealist moment) in a fleeting instant.
During the course of the project, I collaborated with two graduate student composers who created a musical score to accompany the billboards. This soundtrack was available on Houston’s NPR station — drivers could download the score and find directions on how to “tour” the billboards. I also premiered two videos, which I made to accompany a live performance of the compositions. This performance took place at the University of Houston’s opera house during the final week of the billboard installation.
As the billboards came down it became clear to me that I should find a way to extend the life of my project. Not only did I want physical evidence that it had happened, but I also wanted the opportunity to analyze and ground this project — one whose conceptual underpinnings were rooted in the ephemeral. This led to the decision to create a book about Inbound: Houston.
INBOUND: HOUSTON [now]
Some wonderful people agreed to participate in this endeavor — Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (a Houston native and author of Harlem is Nowhere) contributed beautiful prose; there’s a conversation between the artist Paul Ramirez-Jonas and me, and an essay by scholar, curator and critic Nuit Banai. I was thrilled to receive funding ($15,000), which covers most of the expenses. I am sending out this plea to raise the final $3,000.
Your support means so much, and whether you can give a little or give more, your contribution will allow this exciting project to happen!
FIRST STRETCH GOAL ANNOUNCED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am so excited to have reached my initial goal! So this seems like the right time to talk about my stretch goal.
If I can reach a goal of $4,800, 160% funded, all books will get wrapped with a bellyband. While this would be a great additional design feature for most books, in the case of mine it will have special impact. I plan to illustrate (in a subtle way) what it was like to drive by one of my billboards. The bellyband will be printed with a billboard image that will overlay the landscape on the book's cover. In effect, the bellyband will both obscure and reveal the landscape behind it, just as my billboards did. This additional $1,800 toward the book would also allow me to include one gatefold, which would feature two foldout panoramic views of my billboards.
Risks and challenges
The project's challenges at this stage relate to the design and editing process. With limited funds and a finite number of pages to work with, we must really examine each page and make tough decisions regarding what content stays and what gets deleted.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)