Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten

Previously in the Nasher XChange series:

  1. Flock in Space, Nasher XChange, Entry One of Ten
  2. X , Nasher XChange, Entry Two of Ten

Charles Long
Northpark Center, Dallas, Texas

In keeping with my project of going to all ten of the Nasher XChange sites without using a car, after work I rode my commuter bike over to the nearest DART station, locked it up in a Bike Lid, and took the train down to Park Lane station.

I walked across Central Expressway to get to the shopping center. That felt really strange – Northpark is the cold dark center of the Dallas upper crust car culture. Swarms of honking, smoking metal carapaces jammed themselves along the frontage roads while a thick stream clogged the freeway lanes below.

There were other people on the sidewalks, working their way to or from the mall. A thin trickle of what were obviously employees – from retail, cleaning crew, restaurant workers – dishwashers to waiters, all wearing weary uniforms, trudging home or dragging their way to work, shift after shift.

I waited a long, long time for a walk signal, then crossed the penultimate road. I reached the other side and was moving on down the sidewalk when I heard the distinctive squeal of brakes and skidding rubber on concrete. Then came that awful sound of expensive sheet steel rending – a pop and crunch. A thin rancid cloud of burnt tire treat floated by.

I turned and looked into the mass of automobiles to see the horde slowly sorting itself out with the green light. One young man in an old sedan sporting a very fresh dent in the front grille came slowly sorting himself out of the fray, winding from lane to lane until he escaped the traffic. He made a right turn and I expected him to pull over and wait for his victim, but he suddenly accelerated and then, he was gone… like a fart in the wind.

A hit and run.

It was all too fast for me to think. No chance to make a note of a license, I’m not even sure of the color, let alone the model of the car.

While I walked away I saw a shiny Lexus SUV pull over with its back end smashed. A couple of other cars pulled up beside, and a clot of women piled out, all standing on the sidewalk and gesticulating.

I turned and began to cross the vast parking lot into the cavernous mall on foot.

Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Charles Long
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

Virtual money flowing across the surface of the sculpture. Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Virtual money flowing across the surface of the sculpture.
Charles Long
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

From the Nasher Website:

Charles Long, a Long Branch, NJ native, currently resides in Mt. Baldy, CA. His sculptures have explored the abstract autonomous art object as a psychological investigation into the nature of self and others and have been made from diverse media such as coffee grounds, rubber and hair from Abraham Lincoln.

For his Nasher XChange commission, Long plans to create an interactive, waterless fountain entitled Fountainhead that extends his ongoing investigation into the viewer/artwork relationship through the use of new technologies. The installation performs every function of a traditional fountain, only virtually.

Projected images of sheets of dollar bills move serenely down the surface of a sculpted monument, flowing like water, instantly adapting to every nook and curve, accompanied by a serene soundtrack scored especially for it. Three kiosks topped with interactive screens face the monolith and offer an opportunity for visitors to donate money to one of the three designated charities, much like the coins tossed into the Trevi Fountain are donated to charity. After payment is tendered, visitors are encouraged to flick a virtual coin off of the screen toward the sculpture resulting in an exuberant splash of dollars going in every direction. The three designated charities were selected by the artist and Nasher Sculpture Center director, trustees and staff.

“In creating this new work for Nasher XChange I was conscious of the social role that sacrifice has played throughout history. In Fountainhead, I sought to encourage the passerby to give up something of value before an anticipating audience. It’s a bit of harmless fun, yet it echoes ancient public sacrificial ceremonies and it seems pertinent to be doing this kind of sacrifice today in this very popular shopping center where visitors have been seeing public art for decades,” said artist Charles Long. “One of my interests as a sculptor has been to play with the image of value and art, and in this work I wanted to see what a massive fountain of money issuing endlessly forth might feel like as a public spectacle. There is decadence, but then there is this social act of giving. I chose charities proximally close to the lives of the participants so that their giving had a more tangible meaning.”

Nasher XChange will extend the museum’s core mission beyond its walls and into Dallas’ diverse neighborhoods, alongside key community partners, to present advances in the rapidly expanding field of sculpture, raise the level of discourse on the subject within the city, and contribute to broader national and international conversations on public sculpture. As the only institution in the world exclusively dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and researching modern and contemporary sculpture, the Nasher Sculpture Center is uniquely positioned to investigate this growing practice of sculpture in the public realm.

Nasher XChange also references the history of the Nasher Collection itself: from the time of its early formation, major works from it were displayed at NorthPark Center, the indoor shopping mall created in 1965 by Raymond Nasher, and that tradition of making museum-quality art available for everyday enjoyment continues today. Millions of people every year have the opportunity to experience this fascinating and significant art located throughout NorthPark Center.

Long has been interested in the intersection between art, sound, and viewer participation since he collaborated with the band Stereolab in the mid-90’s to create sculptures with sound components that could be accessed through headphones. In his latest public art piece, Pet Sounds, Long evolved his ideas as new technological possibilities were developed with a special focus on activating sound through touch.

Long is an internationally exhibited artist with more than thirty solo shows at such venues as Site Santa Fe; St. Louis Art Museum; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Sperone Gallery, Rome; London Projects, UK; and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, NYC. Long has taught at California Institute of the Arts, Art Center College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design, Harvard University and currently is faculty and chair of the UC Riverside Department of Art.

Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

Charles Long
Northpark Center
Dallas, Texas

I donated five dollars to the North Texas Food Bank. You swipe your credit card, push the button. There's an artificial splash and the  cash projected on the fountain swirls around in a virtual splash

I donated five dollars to the North Texas Food Bank. You swipe your credit card, push the button. The cash projected on the fountain swirls around in a virtual splash

8 responses to “Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten

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