Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jenny Holzer Art Installation at Gordy Hall

Artist and Ohio University alumna Jenny Holzer is known for her powerful use of language in her pieces, and Ohio University's language building, Gordy Hall, is lucky enough to be the home of one of her installations.

Upon entering Gordy Hall, you may look up and frown. Seemingly nonsensical phrases

scroll around a rectangular, overhead LED marquee. Many have no idea that that is a part of a 12-piece art installation that includes the LED as well as 6 green granite benches that line the main first floor hall of Gordy, and an outdoor granite table with 4 more benches. The installation, according to the Ohio University Media Library page for Gordy Hall, was commissioned by the university and came with the language building's 1996-1998 remodeling and expansion.

Each of the twelve pieces of the installation incorporate the use of language in a very immersing way. For instance, the benches, places of sitting and of socializing, have words and phrases inscribed into them. To me, the heavy stone, so anchored and out-of-place in the building, brings a sense of gravity, drawing a person to sit while also sending a message about the permanence and of language. The LED display, if one stands in the middle of it, can be an overwhelming, dizzying experience, which made me think of the many messages we receive daily. Keeping track of all of them and trying to break through the noise can make one feel as if one is spinning in circles.

Holzer's work is ever-focused on the power of language. Other examples of her work include "Projections," series of installations that feature phrases projected on a large scale on buildings and her short, philo-slogans, "Truisms." According to a profile by DesignBoom.Com, "her medium, whether formulated as a t-shirt, as a plaque, or as an LED sign, always is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work."