collaboration with Ralph Helmick
dimensions: 36’ h 16’ w 12’ d
materials: pewter, steel cable, ballchain, steel, motors, processors
site: Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Charlotte, NC
commissioned by: Arts and Science Council Inc

Persistence of Vision is at once an artwork, an event, and a reflection of community.

The building blocks of the piece are small pewter portraits of Charlotte citizens. These heads precisely reflect the demographic makeup of Mecklenburg County, and are individually controlled by 1600 discrete motors. At the start of a workweek the heads are gathered into a porous cloud. Gradually, gracefully, they move one by one to create an epic three-dimensional face. This likeness then slowly reverts back into a cloud. The following week a different portrait builds and dissolves. In a cycle of assembly and dispersion, new faces are continually formed over time.

For example, one sequence portrays an elderly Latina. Reaching an optical crescendo on Wednesday afternoon, her face gradually disappears by Friday evening. Subsequent weeks witness the formation of a 25-year-old African-American man, an Asian boy, a middle-aged Caucasian woman, and so on.

Persistence of Vision is not “of” anyone in particular; it is “of everyone”. An allegory for the justice system on both the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels, the sculpture reflects the organic process of the law and the society it serves.

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