Unbearable Lightness (2003)
An ephemeral public artwork of 110 text boxes distributed through a tree, each displaying an individual scrolling message. The commission was presented for Christmas 2003 under the project banner - 'The Artists' Christmas Tree'.
Unbearable Lightness was a public artwork of 110 LED scrolling text boxes distributed throughout the canopy of a large, mature tree, located in a high traffic location in a major Brisbane Parkland. The work was a major commission for the Southbank Corporation Public Art Program and was exhibited during the Christmas and New Year celebrations of 2003. Each text module displayed individual LED scrolling messages developed during collaboration with locally based hypertext writer, Linda Carolli. Set during the time of the highly contentious Invasion of Iraq, the texts posed open questions around the themes of lightness, thinness and emptiness with the aim of promoting contentions of hope in a time of painful impotence for concerned citizens.
1: Artists' Christmas Tree Public Art Project, 28 November 2003–January 4 2004, South Bank Cultural Forecourt, Brisbane, Australia. Curator Zane Trow.
TEAM: Keith Armstrong (Artistic Director), Linda Carolli (Writer)
MORE: The text modules were positioned in sympathy with the position of major constellations in the night sky at that time whilst the design alluded to Martin Luther’s original Christmas tree envisaged as a mixture of ‘stars’ seen via a tree. The tree was further outlined and highlighted with blue spotlights set within its crown. The project required the design, networking and ruggedisation of the work’s waterproof electronic modules – assisted by an electronic designer. These modules were later re-purposed into a range of other works and formats.
Set within the context of major antiwar protests of that era, the project sought to foster private reflection amongst its viewers whilst also calling upon the power of their personal and collective imagining as a method for retaining positive and critical mindsets in the face of such painful social and political adversities. The work became a strong focus of attention within the park and generated nightly debate and enthusiastic spoken reading sessions.