Installations For Transitional Space

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 By Jordan Karnes   Artist's Statement     
  
 
  
    
  
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   When I first approached the opportunity of creating something within the Esparto station, I was really fascinated with the idea of the building as a secret space within the town. I wanted to know who went there, what they did, and why. On my first visit to the station, I was curious about the old graffiti on the walls, the broken glass on the floor, the dirty socks in the sink. So I began asking questions, asking if anyone knew any good stories about the station. And while I failed to get the kind of seedy stories I was looking for, I did talk to some great people who communicated another narrative undercurrent: that of actual town pride and ambition for the future. After this first visit, I wrote a poem processing one of these conversations (“Esparto”). I was interested in the relationship between pride and town status—what it meant to have pride in a place often forgotten by others. Then I remembered a conversation I’d had with Cathie at RISE, also during that first visit. She had mentioned that the youth in Esparto depreciates themselves because they are from a small town. That really triggered something in me, having also been born and raised in a town “looked down” on for its geography and industry. I looked back at my notes and found another quote from that first visit: “We are in an in-between place that doesn’t represent what it was or will be, only what it is now.” So I decided to shift my focus, and talk to teenagers in order to find out what Esparto is now.     I asked what they knew about Esparto’s past. I asked who their neighbors are, if they feel known. What is their relationship to the land? What does their day look like? Where do they see themselves in five years? What do they want me to know about Esparto? What do they want me to ask?    And their answers actually kind of surprised me. Things weren’t so bad in Esparto. They felt known. They felt connected. But I had wanted to get beyond the archetype of the small town narrative. I still wanted to find the secret, seedy stories I had set out to tell. It was then that I realized my posture in this whole picture, and was forced to ask myself: What is my interest in wanting to “build” their narrative? What was I trying to find? I considered what I would have said as a teenager in Bakersfield, and realized I probably wouldn’t have responded much differently. I knew then that I did not want to “build” anything. Rather, I simply wanted to infuse the stories entrusted to me with the momentum and rhythm I felt inherent in the landscape of this town and its people. To re-tell their stories in a way that held the integrity of their telling.

By Jordan Karnes

Artist's Statement

When I first approached the opportunity of creating something within the Esparto station, I was really fascinated with the idea of the building as a secret space within the town. I wanted to know who went there, what they did, and why. On my first visit to the station, I was curious about the old graffiti on the walls, the broken glass on the floor, the dirty socks in the sink. So I began asking questions, asking if anyone knew any good stories about the station. And while I failed to get the kind of seedy stories I was looking for, I did talk to some great people who communicated another narrative undercurrent: that of actual town pride and ambition for the future. After this first visit, I wrote a poem processing one of these conversations (“Esparto”). I was interested in the relationship between pride and town status—what it meant to have pride in a place often forgotten by others. Then I remembered a conversation I’d had with Cathie at RISE, also during that first visit. She had mentioned that the youth in Esparto depreciates themselves because they are from a small town. That really triggered something in me, having also been born and raised in a town “looked down” on for its geography and industry. I looked back at my notes and found another quote from that first visit: “We are in an in-between place that doesn’t represent what it was or will be, only what it is now.” So I decided to shift my focus, and talk to teenagers in order to find out what Esparto is now.

I asked what they knew about Esparto’s past. I asked who their neighbors are, if they feel known. What is their relationship to the land? What does their day look like? Where do they see themselves in five years? What do they want me to know about Esparto? What do they want me to ask?

And their answers actually kind of surprised me. Things weren’t so bad in Esparto. They felt known. They felt connected. But I had wanted to get beyond the archetype of the small town narrative. I still wanted to find the secret, seedy stories I had set out to tell. It was then that I realized my posture in this whole picture, and was forced to ask myself: What is my interest in wanting to “build” their narrative? What was I trying to find? I considered what I would have said as a teenager in Bakersfield, and realized I probably wouldn’t have responded much differently. I knew then that I did not want to “build” anything. Rather, I simply wanted to infuse the stories entrusted to me with the momentum and rhythm I felt inherent in the landscape of this town and its people. To re-tell their stories in a way that held the integrity of their telling.

 By  Jordan Karnes    Artist's Statement    When I first approached the opportunity of creating something within the Esparto station, I was really fascinated with the idea of the building as a secret space within the town. I wanted to know who went there, what they did, and why. On my first visit to the station, I was curious about the old graffiti on the walls, the broken glass on the floor, the dirty socks in the sink. So I began asking questions, asking if anyone knew any good stories about the station. And while I failed to get the kind of seedy stories I was looking for, I did talk to some great people who communicated another narrative undercurrent: that of actual town pride and ambition for the future. After this first visit, I wrote a poem processing one of these conversations (“Esparto”). I was interested in the relationship between pride and town status—what it meant to have pride in a place often forgotten by others. Then I remembered a conversation I’d had with Cathie at RISE, also during that first visit. She had mentioned that the youth in Esparto depreciates themselves because they are from a small town. That really triggered something in me, having also been born and raised in a town “looked down” on for its geography and industry. I looked back at my notes and found another quote from that first visit: “We are in an in-between place that doesn’t represent what it was or will be, only what it is now.” So I decided to shift my focus, and talk to teenagers in order to find out what Esparto is now.    I asked what they knew about Esparto’s past. I asked who their neighbors are, if they feel known. What is their relationship to the land? What does their day look like? Where do they see themselves in five years? What do they want me to know about Esparto? What do they want me to ask?    And their answers actually kind of surprised me. Things weren’t so bad in Esparto. They felt known. They felt connected. But I had wanted to get beyond the archetype of the small town narrative. I still wanted to find the secret, seedy stories I had set out to tell. It was then that I realized my posture in this whole picture, and was forced to ask myself: What is my interest in wanting to “build” their narrative? What was I trying to find? I considered what I would have said as a teenager in Bakersfield, and realized I probably wouldn’t have responded much differently. I knew then that I did not want to “build” anything. Rather, I simply wanted to infuse the stories entrusted to me with the momentum and rhythm I felt inherent in the landscape of this town and its people. To re-tell their stories in a way that held the integrity of their telling.

By Jordan Karnes

Artist's Statement

When I first approached the opportunity of creating something within the Esparto station, I was really fascinated with the idea of the building as a secret space within the town. I wanted to know who went there, what they did, and why. On my first visit to the station, I was curious about the old graffiti on the walls, the broken glass on the floor, the dirty socks in the sink. So I began asking questions, asking if anyone knew any good stories about the station. And while I failed to get the kind of seedy stories I was looking for, I did talk to some great people who communicated another narrative undercurrent: that of actual town pride and ambition for the future. After this first visit, I wrote a poem processing one of these conversations (“Esparto”). I was interested in the relationship between pride and town status—what it meant to have pride in a place often forgotten by others. Then I remembered a conversation I’d had with Cathie at RISE, also during that first visit. She had mentioned that the youth in Esparto depreciates themselves because they are from a small town. That really triggered something in me, having also been born and raised in a town “looked down” on for its geography and industry. I looked back at my notes and found another quote from that first visit: “We are in an in-between place that doesn’t represent what it was or will be, only what it is now.” So I decided to shift my focus, and talk to teenagers in order to find out what Esparto is now.

I asked what they knew about Esparto’s past. I asked who their neighbors are, if they feel known. What is their relationship to the land? What does their day look like? Where do they see themselves in five years? What do they want me to know about Esparto? What do they want me to ask?

And their answers actually kind of surprised me. Things weren’t so bad in Esparto. They felt known. They felt connected. But I had wanted to get beyond the archetype of the small town narrative. I still wanted to find the secret, seedy stories I had set out to tell. It was then that I realized my posture in this whole picture, and was forced to ask myself: What is my interest in wanting to “build” their narrative? What was I trying to find? I considered what I would have said as a teenager in Bakersfield, and realized I probably wouldn’t have responded much differently. I knew then that I did not want to “build” anything. Rather, I simply wanted to infuse the stories entrusted to me with the momentum and rhythm I felt inherent in the landscape of this town and its people. To re-tell their stories in a way that held the integrity of their telling.

 Performance piece by  Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa    Artist's statement excerpt:   " What does zumba have to do with my installation concept? As a performer, I saw the open space in the train station as an ideal site for yoga, dance, theater and other types of performance. Thus, I set out to explore this potential by activating the train station via the movement of bodies in the open space."

Performance piece by Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa

Artist's statement excerpt:

"What does zumba have to do with my installation concept? As a performer, I saw the open space in the train station as an ideal site for yoga, dance, theater and other types of performance. Thus, I set out to explore this potential by activating the train station via the movement of bodies in the open space."

Sound installation

Sound installation

Sound installation by Kenneth Lin. 

 

Artist's Statement

I grew up in a small town outside of Taipei, Taiwan similar Esparto. When I was a kid, taking the train to the city was a big treat. It was so soothing and exciting at the same time, with the monotonous sound of the train speeding along the track to a more vibrant and energetic area of the world. The train station is the center of the town. We gather, we leave and we come back. The sound of the train amplifies the power of the train and the depot, and intensifies the sense of limitless possibilities.

Reliable aspects of our lives are often overlooked or taken for granted. We take pictures and visualize events, but, we do not often record our memories using sound as a medium. Sound just travels though our mind; light and fluid, then evaporating. Creating soundscape is a way to bring our memory to the presence.

Although I had limited experience in the town, I had the opportunity to interview a lifetime resident of Esparto, Jack Mast. He gave me greater insight on the history of culture of the town. I used his descriptions of the history and evolution of the town to create a narrative using sound.

I used the memory of steam train as my baseline and adopted several events of town history. I mimicked the soundscape through those events to create an intense and vivid industrial world mixing elements of the past and present. I also modulate some some aspects of sounds in Pro-tool to give the project focus.

The second part of the series is my own Esparto experience from the view of San Franciscan. There are so many unique events in Esparto. Children play in sandboxes made of nutshell piles. Popcorn and cotton candy machines lining the street. I also use “Pro-tool” to amplify and highlight many of the common themes. The almond festival seemed to have theme music to support the visual stimulation. Just like images that are created by photographer, sound is a medium to the project and amplify the excitement of the town.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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   By Mike Atherton (Architecture) and Aubrey Davidson (Architecture)    Artist's Statement    The process began with mapping and photographing Esparto and the surrounding areas.  Photos were taken from doorways that framed different views of the city as well as of the door themselves, identifying which buildings had been repurposed.  This helped us to start piecing together a picture of certain aspects of Esparto, both in the past and in the present.  The rich texture of the surrounding farms immediately caught our attention and thus a series of questions were brought up about how Esparto is connected to the Capay Valley farms and where the produce is being dispersed.  Questions were also formulated about the original purposes of the local buildings and how the change of use affected daily life.      To help answer these questions, two locals were interviewed, Judith Redmond from a local, organic farm, Full Belly, and Sue Heitman, retired from the local community board, Capay Valley Vision.  Judith identified where the produce traveled to from her farm in addition to sharing that much of Esparto’s population works on farms.  Sue explained that Esparto’s basic needs have to be met such as food and shelter and that there is a need for an economic engine.    These interviews helped us identify Esparto’s needs and a possible use of the old train station.  The need for produce and fresh meat from the nearby farms is great as well as a way to capitalize on the agricultural industry.  To further our study into where the produce is distributed from the Capay Valley farms, all of the receiving cities where mapped out in a visual form.  This had a profound effect on the locals that realized where the produce was actually going.  This led us to the idea of having a spacial, visual display of this two-dimensional map.  Because the residents can no longer see the produce being distributed, we wanted to show the dispersal of produce in a visual way.    Each city receiving the produce from Capay Valley farms are represented by a cylindrical, plastic tube that is sand blasted.  The length of the tube depends on the distance from Capay Valley farms.  The tubes are lit from the top and hang vertically, creating both horizontal space as well as intruding into the viewer’s space in a vertical way.  An acrylic circle caps the end of the tube with the distance cut through.  This number is projected onto the floor, allowing the viewer to see the horizontal distance away from Capay Valley as well as the actual distance in miles on the floor.  We hope that this display starts a conversation within the town of Esparto of how the local, nearby agriculture can become an economic catalyst for the town and give the residents a pride in their agriculture.

By Mike Atherton (Architecture) and Aubrey Davidson (Architecture)

Artist's Statement

The process began with mapping and photographing Esparto and the surrounding areas.  Photos were taken from doorways that framed different views of the city as well as of the door themselves, identifying which buildings had been repurposed.  This helped us to start piecing together a picture of certain aspects of Esparto, both in the past and in the present.  The rich texture of the surrounding farms immediately caught our attention and thus a series of questions were brought up about how Esparto is connected to the Capay Valley farms and where the produce is being dispersed.  Questions were also formulated about the original purposes of the local buildings and how the change of use affected daily life. 

To help answer these questions, two locals were interviewed, Judith Redmond from a local, organic farm, Full Belly, and Sue Heitman, retired from the local community board, Capay Valley Vision.  Judith identified where the produce traveled to from her farm in addition to sharing that much of Esparto’s population works on farms.  Sue explained that Esparto’s basic needs have to be met such as food and shelter and that there is a need for an economic engine.

These interviews helped us identify Esparto’s needs and a possible use of the old train station.  The need for produce and fresh meat from the nearby farms is great as well as a way to capitalize on the agricultural industry.  To further our study into where the produce is distributed from the Capay Valley farms, all of the receiving cities where mapped out in a visual form.  This had a profound effect on the locals that realized where the produce was actually going.  This led us to the idea of having a spacial, visual display of this two-dimensional map.  Because the residents can no longer see the produce being distributed, we wanted to show the dispersal of produce in a visual way.

Each city receiving the produce from Capay Valley farms are represented by a cylindrical, plastic tube that is sand blasted.  The length of the tube depends on the distance from Capay Valley farms.  The tubes are lit from the top and hang vertically, creating both horizontal space as well as intruding into the viewer’s space in a vertical way.  An acrylic circle caps the end of the tube with the distance cut through.  This number is projected onto the floor, allowing the viewer to see the horizontal distance away from Capay Valley as well as the actual distance in miles on the floor.  We hope that this display starts a conversation within the town of Esparto of how the local, nearby agriculture can become an economic catalyst for the town and give the residents a pride in their agriculture.

The Purple Elephant

The Purple Elephant

By Tre Hurst (Design)

What struck me about our tour of Esparto was the emphasis on the past. I saw the train station as a metaphor for the town. It is an entity born of the railroad, a place with an opportunity to pivot and change. What could be here, in this stunted train station now owned by an eager and capable architect? During our tour we hear the standard suggestions of a restaurant, or museum…and that our projects could consists of murals or silhouettes painted onto the station window. I wondered who else had an opinion…and how wild or inventive those opinions could be. Esparto’s adult residents are charged with planning a future; their opinions and ideas will shape what this town will be. But the youngest residents, should they choose to stay, will be responsible for cultivating those ideas, building upon progress while still preserving the past. Why not start with the youngest residents. By engaging with them, I can open their mind to the train station at an early age and get them thinking about their future with curiosity and inventiveness.

Since I identified my interview subjects as children between 6 and 10, I then had to create a fun an interactive way of getting them to think about the train station. The first step was building a model of the train station with which the kids could engage and play. I also crafted a series of drawing activities based around the past present and future life of the train station. I wanted to explore their view or perception of the station and gauge whether or not they were curious about it. I also wanted to see how far they could stretch their imaginations in creating stories or narratives around the building.

A local homeschool teacher, Elvira Paoletti, welcomed me into her classroom to meet Ally 10 and Colton 9. This duo was full of energy skipping around the classroom and just being amazingly vibrant children. After settling down to the task and moving through some of the exercises, I noticed something that shattered my assumptions. The two were aware of the train station but held little curiosity of the building. It had always been abandoned; to them the thought of any life in or narrative around the station was too far in the past. Additionally, when brainstorming about what it could be, given no restrictions, they defaulted to train station museums and restaurants…similar to what their parents would say. During a break in our surprisingly rational conversations, Ally drew and Elephant. A Purple Elephant (which she then challenged me to redraw, color, and place safely into the train depot). The Elephant lived in the train station and took care of the station attendant. He lived in the depot, obviously, because he was too big for any other room and the depot had the benefit of wide barn doors. The Purple Elephants, Ally’s and mine, stayed in the depot portion of the model the entire way back to San Francisco.

 

I decided to turn the Purple Elephant into a metaphor or exercise that reflects the experience I had with Ally and Colton. It was amazing working with them and they inspired me to explore how thinking big and bold pushes us to think critically about making our dreams feasible. What implications does say, a Purple Elephant, have on the train station or Esparto? How do we resolve bold moves that are spawned from our wonder and delight into our rational lives? The Purple Elephant represents a simple but useful metaphor when unhinging oneself from conventional paths and unimaginative possibilities. It reminds us to look deeply, to investigate with curiosity, to think without limits and to relish in all that delights. The Purple Elephant is not tethered to the past, it is not an image of the present, and it is not an abstraction of the future. It only represents a way of thought…. a release from the conventional.