Feature Article in “The Suffolk Times”

This feature appeared in “The Suffok Times” and “The Riverhead News Review.” Article by Nicole Smith, fun photo by Barbaraellen Koch.

“Andrea Cote Readies Greenport Public Art Project”

 

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The Eyes in Process: Arthur Middleton Tasker

In October, Arthur Tasker contacted me after seeing my call for participants in the paper. We met at Aldo’s where he told me about his family’s migration to Greenport from the  New York City. The Taskers had a business in leather goods in the 19th Century and later Arthur came to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps as a lawyer. We met a few days later at his Sandy Beach house, where Arthur has memories of growing up and now grows oysters. I interviewed him on film and then he showed me pictures from his family history. Arthur is an avid genealogist and has records of his family going back over 200 years. (More to come in the video, so stay tuned.)

AM Tasker's Portrait With each family I feature, I am looking to photograph eyes of ancestors and descendants, to create a family lineage. This is a photo of Arthur Middleton Tasker (1880-1938), Arthur’s grandfather for whom he is named.

 

 

AM Takser's Eyes- Black and White

 

I isolated and adjusted Arthur’s eyes in photoshop, exaggerating the contrast to bring out as much detail as possible.

 

AM Tasker's Eyes in NegativeThis image I turned into a negative for printing on the pleixglass wheel on the sculpture. The whites will ultimately be transparent, such that the viewer can see right through the pupils, to the landscape beyond.

 

AM Tasker's Eyes for SilkscreenI am also creating a series of silkscreen prints for the project, so here are Arthur’s eyes translated into a bitmap pattern in a graphic image that, once shot onto a screen, can be transferred with ink onto another surface.

A New Proposed Site in Mitchell Park

In early Fall, I was walking around Mitchell Park with local artist Arden Scott, discussing places in the park I was considering siting the sculpture. On our walk it was suggested that we check out the deck above the Tourist Office, beside the Marina Office. We walked up the back ramp, encountered the view, and immediately looked at each other and agreed, this was the perfect spot!

The deck is in plain view, but a bit of a secret. It’s very quiet up there, doesn’t attract much traffic, but it has a beautiful view of the park, the marina, and the Peconic Bay.  To the other side, you can see the back porch of Aldo’s, the Old Blacksmith Shop, and right up First Street.

It called up the placement of mechanical sightseeing viewers you can step up to, put a quarter in, and adjust the lens to see into the distance. Here, visitors can look out in all directions, turn the wheel of the sculpture and look through the eyes of generations of Greenporters, while contemplating this unique spot in space over time.

I drew up these images- hopefully you will see it on site next summer!

Proposed Sculpture on Deck in Mithcell Park

Proposed Sculpture on Deck in Mitchell Park

Inspiration: The Camera Obscura

The project was first inspired by the unique walk-in Camera Obscura in Mitchell Park in Greenport. I have always been fascinated by early photographic technologies that challenge our ways of seeing. I’ve been inside several camera obsucas and always found them absolutely magical- the way can engage your whole body, sometimes placing you inside the image itself. I had the chance 5 years ago to enter the one in Greenport. It is unique in that it has a lens attached to a periscope in the ceiling that can be rotated, changing focus, and projecting the landscape outside in 360 degrees onto a central disc. I was able to revisit the camera again at the Maritime Festival this year and it was even more transfixing than I had remembered.

“A camera obscura is a darkened room into which light enters through a small opening, projecting a live picture onto a screen. In a modern version, the view outside is reflected by a mirror through a lens, which projects it onto a viewing table. Looking down at the table one sees a living, two-dimensional image of the outside scene, in full color. The mirror can be rotated, so that, as it turns, one sees the view in all directions. The vibrant image promotes a feeling of serene detachment, reveals details otherwise overlooked, and enhances one’s appreciation of the scenic beauty. Many viewers find the experience deeply moving, and almost all are fascinated by this magical new way of seeing.”

Greenport’s Camera Obsura, Village website

Once I knew my public sculpture would be a response to this unique feature of Greenport, I wanted to play with photographic imagery and invite a different way of seeing. My inclusion of the eyes, imagery I’ve incorporated before, would this time be printed in negative so that the viewer would be able to see the landscape through the pupils. Camera Obscuras were a precursor to the the modern photograph and eventual development of the negative. I also wanted my sculpture to be circular and rotate, another reference to the round building and revolving periscope (as well as the park’s nearby merry-go-round.)  And finally, I imagined individuals standing in this same position over centuries, gazing at this very landscape, both the same and changed.

Camera_Obscura

 

The Camera Obscura in Mitchell Park, exterior view.

 

 

 

Camera_Obscura_Periscope

 

Close-up of periscope with lens, rotating in full 360 degrees.