Bill Dolson in his amazing studio
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Bill Dolson’s studio/airplane hangar (yes, he shares his studio with his plane) and learning more about his work. What was especially inspiring to me were several very large scale, almost impossible projects: Reentry, Fire Line and Grid Switch. Bill and I were both residents of the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in NYC (although at different times) and I related to his large scale projects because of my own experiences with the NY2050 collaboration and my Queensbridge Wind Power Project proposal.
Bill Dolson Studies for Synthetic Meteors – San Diego
Still from HD Video Animation
Reentry involves creating an artificial meteor shower by adding a special payload to a vehicle that provides supplies to the space station regularly and burns up upon reentry to the atmosphere. I find this project interesting in the way it brings attention to the extensive amount of human activity currently occurring in space.
Since the beginning of space exploration the atmospheric reentry of man-made artifacts has created what could be considered synthetic meteors. The Reentry Series involves the deliberate creation of vast, ephemeral drawings using these reentry events. Historically, the pattern and timing of synthetic meteors has been inadvertent or has been determined as a side effect of other technical or scientific objectives or as the result of accidents. The tragic breakup of the space shuttle Columbia was certainly the most widely viewed of these events.
Bill Dolson Video frame from computer animation study
“Five Points in an East-West Line, displaced Northwest”
Fire line is a beautiful proposal for choreographed controlled burns. While seemingly destructive, these burns are executed deliberately as a means to simulate a natural ecological process. In order to prepare for this project, Bill said he had to obtain firefighter certification.
Las Vegas, Nevada
view from the International Space Station
Image Courtesy of the Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Although the intention is to create all these projects in reality, Bill concedes that Grid Switch would likely be the most difficult. The idea is to create a visual pattern to be seen from a great height by switching on and off the electrical grid.
These are proposals for pieces whose realization is admittedly problematic. If executed in a currently inhabited city, they require the acquiescence if not explicit permission of virtually the entire population. With the exception of the area around Chernobyl, there are no known urban sites which possess an intact power grid but are uninhabited. Perhaps these works can only be executed in the future, at a time when the manipulation of the power grid is no longer an inconvenience to the residents of the city due to abandonment or is a necessity for implementing power conservation through rolling blackouts.