The success of a public work of art is measured not merely by aesthetics, but rather, by its magnetic qualities that inspire interaction. The art is a reflection of the City, the art becomes a part of the City, the art is instrumental in making the City. — Spirit of Space
Acting as poetic translators between cities and their citizens, the creative agency Spirit of Space uses digital media to showcase humanity's built environment, consequently enhancing the citizen's self-awareness and appreciation of architectural space. Their film for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, entitled Art in the City, visits a selection of public art installations in Chicago, presenting the structures within an engaged society, with quotations from their creators superimposed on the footage.
Art in the City's perspective contextualizes the art as truly part of its city, rather than tightly framing it as an isolated portrait. While not an explicit critique of the public art, the film and featured quotations are bold strokes, meant to inspire dialogue and enthused interaction, but not push a specific argument. In line with Spirit of Space's agenda, the film provokes questions of public art's purpose, civic relationship, and whether it "succeeds". Inherent to these questions is public art's distinction from all other types of art, and the relationship between art piece and viewer.
Interactivity is certainly nowadays a contentious barometer in art -- whether it degrades, enhances or activates an art-object's significance. In the case of architecture, interactivity is assumed to take place physically. But with public art, interactivity has a subtle spectrum -- a mural creates a different interactive atmosphere than say, a climbable structure like the Serpentine Pavilion. And for public art within an urban context, interactivity operates simultaneously between city-and-art, and art-and-citizen. The public art becomes a conduit for an interactivity between citizen and city.
Spirit of Space strives to display these delicate urban interactions, and provoke thoughtful considerations of our surrounding spaces. The agency uses film, music and architectural studies to make visible what is mostly ephemeral, and relate that transient feeling of a city back to the reliably tangible public art objects.
View Art in the City in its entirety below.