Project 4

Project 4 – A Public Intervention: Making a Message in the Public Space

Due: December 7th at the beginning of class

To Be Critiqued:
Your group’s video/photo documentation of the Public Intervention

To Be Submitted – One from Each Group:

(Eg. Rivkin_J and Rivkin_J Project 4)

  1. One Folder Containing
    1. Initial Proposal Sketches – One Document with JPEGS as PDF
    2. 250 Word Description of Chosen Project – PDF
    3. Photoshop Mockups – One Document with JPEGS as PDF
    4. Final Edited Video and High-Resolution Photo Documentation of installed project – .mov and .jpeg
      eg. Rivkin_J and Rivkin_J Project 4.pdf, Rivkin_J and Rivkin_J Project


The medium is the message” – Marshall McLuhan

In this project, you will have the opportunity to express something unexpected in a public space to provoke a reexamination of assumptions held by the viewer. The work may create laughter, anxiety, delight, discomfort or other emotions but it should raise thoughts or questions for the viewer. The dialog should result from the use of a vocabulary of symbols or icons in conjunction with a public space chosen for how it interacts with your work and how it enhances and completes the intended message.

The public space should be a considered portion of the message. Marshall McLuhan once said “the medium is the message.” This project challenges you to create a visual message that is complete and more effective because the environmental medium you choose performs as an integral part of the work. As a designer you will not simply look for a public space to reinforce or showcase your message, you will want to discover an opportunity, a space, that speaks as part of your message and makes it memorable.

Food stands, banks, subways, cars, buses, gas stations, movie theaters, night clubs, parks, pubs, public schools, public art, universities, coffee shops, bike racks, parking lots, retail establishments, libraries, retail stores, alleyways, streets, sidewalks, bridges, manhole covers, lamp posts, trees, the sky, anything visible in the public sphere is fair game. You may be reaching 20, 50, or a 1000 people but the medium you choose, the public space you use, should have a vital impact on how the viewer understands the message you are sending.

Note: Your power to influence the public carries a great responsibility. What will your topic be? This is a chance for your creativity, authenticity, playfulness, and humanity to converge and directly touch the lives of others who may see your work.


  1. You will be assigned a partner at random. First, you will need to select a site and theme, then analyze forms—objects, animals, plants—and translate one or more into simplified graphic forms or icons. Begin by going out into the world and capture imagery to help build a database of ideas. You can use your phone, or a borrowed camera. Once you have collected your photo imagery, sketch a minimum of three different studies in your visual diary based on photos you have taken.
  2. After producing a number of studies individually, collaborate with your partner to see where ideas overlap and select three ideas from your well of ideas.  You will present these to the class on the 18th.
  3. Choose one study and develop a photo-realistic translation that expresses the real or imagined character of the original sketch in Photoshop. Feel free to appropriate or adapt other icons produced by others in the class or found through research. Exaggerate or interpret the forms creating new icons, symbols and representations from your initial designs. You will also submit a 250 word written proposal that specifies the intentions of the installation, the location, and the materials used.
  4. You will install the public intervention. You will need to figure out how to document – in video and photographs – the work – either one of the people in the partner group will document or you will need to recruit some outside help.
  5. With your documentation you will edit your video documentation into a short film in Photoshop or iMovie, with beginning and end titles, that demonstrates the interaction of your work and the public.


11/11 – Project Kickoff
11/16 – Project 3 Critique
11/18 – Visiting Artist: Bevan Weissman
           – Three Preliminary Sketches/Proposals Du
11/23 – Proposal Review/Studio
           – Written Proposal/Photoshop Mockup Due
11/25 – No Class
11/30 – Video Editing Tutorial/Documentary Conventions
12/02 – Studio
12/04 – End of Semester Salon – Morgan Building Gallery, 4:30PM-6:30PM
12/07 – Last Class – Project Due

Readings –
*Microutopias: Public Practice in the Public Sphere
*Common Ground
*Doing the Time: On Paul Chan – Waiting for Godot in New Orleans
Place: Themes in Contemporary Art
*The Sounding City – R. Murray Schafer
Tehching Hsieh & Linda Montano Interview
JR – Public Art Lecture

*==Read for 11/18

Student Examples
DP article on Women in Engineering

Solo Cup Semiotics

Steps to Happiness

What is Your Film About?

Project 4 Mike and Nebil
Design/Real World Examples×5-public-art-project-electrifies-washington-dc-117078

Art World Examples/Slide Lecture

Agnes Denes – Wheatfield, a Confrontation

Thomas Hirschhorn – Gramsci Monument

Francis Alÿs – Something Making Something Leads to Nothing and When Faith Moves Mountains

Tino Seghal – This is Progress

Rick Lowe – Project Row Homes

Jeremy Deller – The Battle of Orgreave and It Is What It Is – STELLAR DOCUMENTATION

Mary Mattingly – Wetland – this is happening at Penn right now, currently at Batrams Garden

Santiago Serra – 160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People

Rirkrit Tiravanija

Andy Goldsworthy

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