The St. Louis Projection at St. Louis Public Library April 16-18

Krzysztof Wodiczko’s The St. Louis Projection, a poignant and provocative community art project about the shattering effects of violence and the healing power of public discourse, will be broadcast onto the St. Louis Public Library, 1301 Olive St., from 9-11 p.m. April 16-18.

The piece consists of audio testimony by a half-dozen St. Louis residents who have lost loved ones, inter-cut with the remorseful stories of prisoners now serving time for such acts at the Missouri State Correctional Facility in Potosi. Accompanying each speaker’s voice are videotaped images of their hands, which will be projected onto the library’s southern facade.

The effect is strikingly anthropomorphic, as if the library itself were speaking to the city. At the same time, though the stories told are often heartrending, the process of telling them is, for both participants and the community, profoundly healing.

Those who have lost loved ones are able to voice their grief in a powerful yet constructive public forum, while those who have committed violence are able to express regret and warn of the costs they have paid for their actions.

‘Critical Praxis’ to examine media

The schools of Architecture and Art will present an international symposium on media, technology and cultural transformation today and April 17.

“Critical Praxis for the Emerging Culture: A Collaborative Investigation Into the Nature of Cultural Transformation Brought About by Technology and Media” will include presentations and panel discussions with world renowned artists, designers, theoreticians, and scientists who are transforming emerging technology and using it as the vehicle for cultural inquiry.

“The intent of Critical Praxis is to investigate the social and cultural transformations which result from our information- and media-driven contemporary society,” said Cynthia Weese, dean of the School of Architecture. “The presentations by young architects and designers will provide alternative views and attitudes in emerging design practices.”Insights generated will help project the future development of design and technological education and practice.”

The centerpiece of Critical Praxis is The St. Louis Projection.Panel discussions will be held in Steinberg Auditorium.

At 9:30 a.m. today, art historian Philip Walsh, assistant professor at Northeastern University, will moderate a panel discussion on “Film/Installation/Performance: Spatial Formations.” At 2 p.m., Walsh will host a second discussion, on “Technology and Design Between Theory and Practice.”

At 10 a.m. April 17, Carol Strohecker, principal investigator of the Everyday Learning Research Group at Media Lab Europe in Dublin, will moderate the final discussion, on “Complexity of Cultural Shifts: Projecting Critical Praxis.”

All events are free and open to the public.

“The St. Louis Public Library is a beautiful and historic building,” Wodiczko said. “It is filled with many different voices and has a strong, monumental presence. It is a good place at which to discuss these themes of loss and healing and justice.”

He pointed out that the library’s inscription reads, in part, “Recorded thought is our chief heritage from the past, the most lasting legacy we can leave to the future.”

In addition, Wodiczko will speak for the Assembly Series and the School of Architecture’s Monday Night Lecture Series at 6 p.m. April 19 in Steinberg Hall Auditorium.

Created in collaboration with faculty and students from the schools of Architecture and Art, The St. Louis Projection is one of several events surrounding the April 14 groundbreaking of the Sam Fox Arts Center.

Wodiczko, director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has realized slide and video projections on more than 70 historic monuments and architectural facades in more than a dozen countries. These include the Bunker Hill Memorial in Boston; the Martin Luther Church in Kassel, Germany; and the Bundeshaus (Capitol) in Bern, Switzerland.

In 1999, Wodiczko received the Hiroshima Prize, awarded every three years by the Japanese city to an artist whose work has contributed to world peace.

Interviews for The St. Louis Projection were coordinated by Bob Hansman, associate professor of architecture and founder of City Faces, a nationally renowned art program for youth living in public housing. Sung Ho Kim, assistant professor of architecture, and Adam Whiton, a research specialist with MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, are designing special equipment to facilitate filming of the hands.

Alison Bates, a master of fine arts candidate in photography, serves as project coordinator. Multimedia artist and filmmaker Zlatko Cosic and 2003 alumnus Brett Murphy also are assisting, with technical support and expertise provided by The Spark Agency.

The St. Louis Public Library was designed by the firm of Cass Gilbert, a New York architect chosen in a national competition. Construction of the Beaux Arts, Italian Renaissance-style began in 1909 and the building was dedicated in 1912.

Both The St. Louis Projection and Critical Praxis are organized by the schools of Architecture and Art. The events are cosponsored by the Sam Fox Arts Center, School of Law, George Warren Brown School of Social Work and Department of Computer Science & Engineering, as well as the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Additional support is provided by The Spark Agency, Chicago’s Graham Foundation for Advancement in Fine Arts and the University’s Sesquicentennial grants.

For more information, call 935-6200.

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