cargo (ship names)

“hidden city”
drawings, sculpture, sound

these drawings were part of a three room installation at girard college in philadelphia – the rooms had not been open to the public in nearly 100 years. the building was a school founded (and funded) by merchant stephen girard and was designed by thomas u. walter (who also designed the us capitol dome). the entire installation consisted of a letterpress text work in one room, a large sculptural form with sound related to girard’s intentions for the architectural commission for the building, and a room containing numerous hand made crates, with sound and also a series of drawings.

the room that contained the drawings included a quiet sound work using the names of stephen girard’s ship names as a score, played on different notes of a banjo – marking off 26 different points on the neck, so as to translate the words into melodies. the speakers were placed within hand made crates, each the size of the average document box and each stenciled with the name of a ship. the drawings, were framed and leaning up against the crates as well as against the walls so as to activate the space and to get viewers to traverse the space.

the drawings were generated from a list of names used to designate each of girard’s ships used in his mercantile business. the list reads like a beautiful piece of concrete poetry – deux amis, jeune bebe, voltaire, helvetius, julie, liberty… and so i decided to allow each name to generate a drawing that not only uses the name as a graphic element, but also as a score, determining intuitive mark making. for example, the name “julie” not only generated a kind of architectural form built of the word “julie” drawn in block letters, but contained a series of abstract marks, generated by using the word julie to determine the process of making abstract marks. with “julie”, because “j” is the 10th letter of the alphabet, my first mark with an ink soaked brush was a crooked line with 10 turns. for the second letter, “u” i made a line with 21 turns, then one with 12 turns for “L”, 8 for “i”, and 5 for “e”. in this way the word is not only visibly present, but has also determined my approach to the so-called abstract presences. along with the ink, there are pencil lines (both colored and traditional lead) that also follow the letter score “j-u-l-i-e”. you can see in the installation folder images of the drawings within the installation, which also contained sculptural forms and sound.