Jane Philbrick installation at Location One, New York, uses fire alarms to confront today’s fear and insecurity
Honeywell engineer: “Are you hoping to blind your viewers and leave them wriggling on the floor like fish?”
Jane Philbrick: “I like it really loud.”
This is PULL, Jane Philbrick’s large-scale installation at Location One, which comprises 502 fire alarms, strobes, smoke detectors, siren horns, control panels—and one customized vintage fire pull station. PULL is about security and fear and power and technology. It is beautiful while disturbing.
PULL will be on view at Location One’s main gallery, September 10 to November 8, 2008. The opening is 6 to 8 p.m. September 10. PULL confronts an America seemingly crippled by fear and uncertainty. Developed in collaboration with 18 engineers from Honeywell’s Fire Systems Group, PULL urges viewers to realize their hidden desire to sound the alarm, here in the form of an historic fire call box situated in the center of the gallery space. Once triggered, the work blossoms into a flourish of lights, words and deafening sirens—a wake up call.
“Like a ventriloquist, Philbrick sends her message through non-human means, a digital narrative that provokes, just as it forces awareness,” says Claire Montgomery, Location One executive director. “She invites viewers to pull her conceptual trigger, and then, as the work plays out, compels them to experience first-hand the tense seductions of power and the often brutal consequences of our anonymous, systemized response to it.”
“The military machine is as beautiful and seductive as it is menacing and intimidating, brilliantly offering in its mass, anonymous order the implicit promise of security as antidote to the very anxiety it instills,” says Philbrick. “The machine prompts fear, we respond defensively, and the consequences vastly exceed scale, local (personal) fear, and global response.”
Jane Philbrick is an artist working with language. She is currently an International Fellow at Location One and an artist research affiliate at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT, where she is developing a solo exhibition for the Skissernas Museum for Public Art in Lund, Sweden, opening in 2009. Philbrick developed PULL while an artist in residence at Honeywell’s Fire Systems Group. This exhibition was curated for Location One by Eric C. Shiner.