“Flights of Mind”

Installation Characteristics

The installation was comprised of about two hundred twenty five constituent parts suspended from a handful of heavy anchor lines, lines that together established its basic shape and orientation. The constituent parts—books whose pages had been folded—hung at a range of distances from their supporting cables and anchor lines, from fifteen feet to four inches and everything between. The books varied in subject, language, and color, as well as pitch and yaw. Not one was in perfect condition. All showed evidence of having been out in the world—worn, frayed, some beat-up and patched. Each slowly turned, independent of the others, a subtle interplay between its particular physical characteristics and its immediate context. That is, an interplay between the ply and length of its thread, the pitch and yaw of its covers, and its weight, on the one hand, and the wake of library patrons’ movements, the updraft from a sun-drenched wall, and the intrusion of weather through the front door, on the other.

While the installation was an integrated whole, there was no vantage point from which it was fully visible. The piece swooped, turned and disappeared as it slipped through the oculus and reached out into the space beyond. Only by way of the viewer moving through the spaces of the library did the installation fully reveal its shape, scale and orientation.

There was pervasive movement: the independent movement of constituent parts, the movement of library patrons, the viewer’s movement following the piece’s visual invitation to see more, and the piece’s overall sense of movement. And there was bidirectional movement: The work descended from the sky outside the great window into the atrium, dove through the oculus and reached into the library’s depths. AND, the work moved from the heart of the library, at circulation, rushed up through the oculus, and hurled itself through the atrium and then skyward. It could not be only one direction or the other, but had to be both, coming and going, bringing and taking.

“Flights of Mind” was a temporary installation. Certain conditions came along and there it was, a dynamic and vulnerable presence dependent on the protection of a big sturdy building, social convention, and Library rules. It was gone seven weeks later, leaving no physical evidence, only traces in some people’s minds that may manifest someday in ways that won’t be recognizable as related to this piece.


Flights of Mind at Berkeley Public Library