As We Are
On-site installation, Seattle Storefronts, Seattle, WA
Nov 2015 - Mar 2016
Found cardboard, oil paint, writing
In early 2015, I was awarded a commission by Shunpike Seattle and Amazon to create a large installation on Amazon's campus that would be inspired by the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle.
South Lake Union is a neighborhood that has a long standing history in industry and residential vibrancy, but when it was chosen as the site for Amazon's consolidated campus in 2007, much of the neighborhood was in a state of partial abandonment and disrepair. Still, Amazon's decision to raze just about every building they purchased, replacing them with nondescript, low budget high-rises was a decision that most Seattle citizens were very unhappy with.
Walking through the neighborhood while planning my commission, I could see why. On my walk to South Lake Union, I ventured through Seattle's downtown, where, like in most cities, there is a sense of great history and chaotic harmony on every street, with buildings that were built in different times, for a variety of purposes, with varying styles and materials, all sandwiched together. It is a mosaic of texture, a testament of diversity in vision and culture, which is one of the greatest pleasures of living in a city -- to feel that everyone, even you, is in some way represented.
Departing downtown and entering South Lake Union felt like leaving an actual city and entering a Lego version of a city -- stark, homogenous, and clean, with flat facades and the same color brick, and giant buildings of unoccupied, 300sq ft, $1500/month microapartments, and a few restaurants that are all geared toward people of the same age, from the same background, who like the same things and make the same amount of money.
For lack of a better descriptor, the neighborhood made me feel uneasy. I took various walks through it at different times of the week, during different parts of the day, but I always felt the same. One thing is for certain, though: Those Amazon people sure do own really cute dogs.
On one of my long, 8 mile walks, the most interesting thing I found was a flattened and wet cardboard box sitting in a small patch of grass on the side of the street. Inspired by the variance of color and surface on the box, I collected it, and began collecting hundreds of boxes from the dumpsters of South Lake Union, and from friends and neighbors, and I began to construct this piece, which is meant to serve as a counterpoint to the sterility and soullessness of South Lake Union.