Evansville, IN Greenway
This Site-Specific sculpture has the look of a technological relic, something from a past not exactly known to us, a device meant to discern some sort of data from its environment. The title of the piece lends itself to this interpretation but does little to clarify exactly how direction is to be found. As is true with much contemporary art the Direction Finder makes use of the concept of ambiguity to lead the viewer to many possible interpretations, many of which are as valid as the next. What does seem to be important however is that the viewer takes each piece of information as an important portion of the whole. This ambiguous aspect of the Direction Finder is in line with much. This steel and bronze out-door sculpture is the collaborative effort of four local artists: Matthew Gehring, Joseph Hicks, Jonathon Hittner, and Bradley Horstman.
As a whole the sculpture consists of four constant units, three of which are identical seventeen feet tall steel and bronze structures that are placed in a triangular orientation thirty feet on each side. These three forms take their visual cues from industrial, agricultural and scientific equipment. Each of these three units is made up of two conical steel units: one supported small end down by three tubular steel legs while the other cone faces small end up directly beneath. At the tip of each of the top cones the steel is replaced with cast bronze. This material shift draws attention to this portion of the sculpture and emphasizes the tips' ability to focus what has been collected in the reservoir. Upon closer investigation one may realize each of the bronze tips on the three suspended cone forms has a small hole in its apex. One can imagine rain funneling through the top cones and out of the holes in the bronze onto the cones below, where the pitch of each cone ends in a cylinder capped with a bronze plate with a bulls-eye pattern circumscribed into its surface. The forth unit consists of a metal wind-catching device that swivels on the top of an eighteen foot tall steel pole. This forth unit is placed equidistant from each of the other components. Non-constant pieces of the sculpture i include the wind and the rain and time. The patina of the steel and bronze evidences this activity with the rich reds and blues taking on a fluid pattern. Even on a sunny day one does in fact hear water but its origin is nearby Pigeon Creek, located less than fifty yards from the sculpture. Mostly obscured from the visual field of the Direction Finder by a tree line, the creek plays an important role in providing the context in which the sculpture is to be perceived. Within this scenic backdrop of grassy field and woody creek the sculpture, with all of its order and strict geometric forms, stands in a curious contrast to its visual surroundings and their organic make up. One can't help but to wonder at the sculpture's kinetic possibilities in a downpour. The viewer would be confronted with three large man-made steel and bronze structures placed in a geometric pattern, momentarily collecting the rain, focusing it into a small stream landing on a bulls-eye, then spreading it back to roughly the same area it would have ended up had it not gone through this process. All the while a device in the center of these three forms monitors the direction of the wind. What does all of this information tell us about the direction we are heading?
Design and Fabrication
The four-person team of artists first had to decide on a direction for the project. Many ideas were considered first verbally and then in the form of preliminary sketches. Once the idea had been further explored and finalized on paper the team made a scale drawing of the individual components. After deciding on the design of the units a three-dimensional model was made. The positioning of the piece had to first be approved by the landscape architects, levee authorities, Department of Natural Resources, Parks Board, and the city council. Once approval was received from each committee, the final drawings and model were sent to the fabricators. As with many large-scale, this piece required the assistance of many professional specialists. Due to their specialized knowledge and access to equipment, their contributions are an indispensable part of finalizing any large-scale artwork. Engineers and contractors were consulted in the plotting and excavation of the site, fitters and welders for the fabrication of the steel sections of the sculpture and crane operators and concrete professionals for the installation of the finished work.
Direction Finder is located on the Pigeon Creek Greenway, near the canoe launch, at the north end of Heidelbach Avenue in Evansville, IN.