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Public White Cube Alteration 1 Public White Cube Alteration 4 Public White Cube Alteration 4 Public White Cube Alteration 4 Public White Cube Alteration 4

In November, 2008 and January, 2009, I participated in the "Public White Cube" project, a part of the "The Art of Participation" exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

I set out to make a material alteration to the installation: a structure created by Los Angeles-based collective, 10 lb. Ape. My initial idea was to dismantle the structure and secure everything to the walls, clearing a space in the center of the floor. I planned to invite museum-goers to dance with me in a performance called "The Detritus Dance," which I described as "a spontaneous celebration of joy and vigor in the midst of the debris, decay and degradation of modern life. " This performance was to be recorded on video.

At the exhibition's opening, I attended a Museum-hosted panel at which the Public White Cube organizers were present. I later assumed that the organizers were located in San Francisco and that they would be available to make the changes that I requested in the gallery. In fact, the organizers had returned to Germany. In order to execute the changes I requested, I would have to do so with my own resources and at my own expense. This made "The Detritus Dance" infeasible, at the time.

I would have to overhaul my initial plans. The 10 lb. Ape structure was, in sum, a grand mess: a heap of rubbish and detritus culled from the streets of Los Angeles and cobbled into a shack-like structure, the overall effect being that of a post-apocalyptic children's clubhouse. The piece was unwieldy and possibly dangerous to anyone who might attempt to disassemble it. I resolved that without a major change to the installation, it would be difficult to affect any noticeable change in appearance to this amorphous structure.

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I concluded that although there was no elegant way to bring order, symmetry or proportion to the structure in a physical manner, there were other ways in which to interact with the piece. It was, for example, possible to order information about the installation. This, ultimately, is what I set out to do: I devised an exercise in which I would make subtle changes to the structure and document those changes. I called this exercise, "Documentation is Order." To the creators' credit, the disheveled appearance of the piece captured the spirit of urban life. At the same time, the level of disorder — coupled with the participatory nature of the exhibition — served as an invitation for museum-goers to alter the shack in any number of ways. And they did just that. Although the installation would be an ever-changing and evolving piece for this reason, it was still possible to affect small changes and record them for posterity. This information could then be ordered in any number of ways.

I chose to take digital photos of the changes and print them as ink jet snapshots, which I then hung along the walls surrounding the shack — evenly spaced and at the same level — creating some sense of order to frame the ramshackle environment.

Most interestingly, the documentation is all that now exists of the structure, itself.

© Tim Roseborough 2010 All Rights Reserved.