Exchange Portals

Introduction: Exchange Portals

Project Description:

Exchange Portals is a collaboration between Gensler and Turner Construction - a temporary installation that seeks to experiment with the form of temporary art in public space as part of the Prototyping Festival. It is centered around the ability to exchange perceptions, ideas and meanings. There are 6 temporary gates or portals that can be experienced in single moments and in multiple impacts. The gate structure is of standard scaffolding, installed to provide a rhythm of moments along one sidewalk in the retail heart. The interior of each portal showcases local art works that draw from the neighborhoods of San Francisco - - their look, their feel, their senses, their communities. On the outer walls of each portal, we are gathering words and events that celebrate our city and provide a frame for engagement and public moments on a blackboard surface.

The installation made its debut during the Market Street Prototyping Festival and had overall positive reception. The following Instructable will walk you through our design process that got us to our final product.

Step 1: Materials

The following materials were used during the making of the Exchange Portals:

-Plywood : 30 4'x8'x3/4" plywood sheets

-Scaffolding: Graciously provided by Safway Scaffolding company

-Solar Lights: 6 strings of solar powered garden lights

-Cardboard for Stencils: 30 24"x36" chipboard sheets

-Paint: 1 bucket of each color: red, blue, chalkboard, white, primer

-Zipties: 2 bags of 100 14" black zip ties (had plenty of extras)

-Chalk: Sidewalk chalk

-Screws: 900 1.5" deck screws

Step 2: Design

The design process began with a firmwide call for preliminary design ideas. These were communicated via post-it notes and presented individually by each designer. The ideas were then condensed, sorted, and the most striking and exciting ideas were pulled out for further development.

In conjunction with our brainstorming session, one of the driving factors in our concept development was the notion of giving back to San Francisco through our installation. We wanted to connect Market Street to the other parts of the city on an experiential scale and landed on the idea of a series of 'portals' that would embody a different district of the city.

Looking at our given site, we decided that the portals would be broken up along the expanse of the city block, responding to the rhythm of the other installation pieces and reinforcing a familiar sense of continuity throughout the site. Six portals in total, each one exhibiting a passive interaction component and an active interaction component with the public.

To achieve the passive interactive component we contacted local artists from each district we were representing and asked them to create a diptych art piece that embodies what their district means to them. These art panels were showcased on the interior of the structure while the exterior hosted chalkboard paint for the passing public to write on, describing what the specific district means to them. During the festival we decided the art pieces would be auctioned off from a website we created. This guaranteed that the art would continue to thrive after the de-installation of the project and further reinforced our notion of giving back to the city.

In terms of form, the driving factor was developing a cost effective structural body that would host our panels. This body had to be constructed quickly and easy to transport. We ultimately decided on using scaffolding and designed a panel system that sandwiched the scaffolding sides and supported itself using the horizontal bar members of the scaffold.

Step 3: Artist Partners

The biography and featured work of the participating artists are showcased below:

Kari Marboe

Kari Marboe’s practice uses water, clay, rectangles and writing to think about the storage of individual and public memory within a wide range of spaces. Her works have been placed in Latham Square, Oakland, CA, the Museum of Northern California Art, Chico, CA, the Bancroft Street entrance of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA, and the Waffle Shop Billboard, Pittsburgh, PA. She has also read object-specific stories at Aggregate Space Gallery, Oakland, CA, Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. Marboe received her BFA from California College of the Arts and MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Lecturer in the Ceramics Program at California College of the Arts and works on site-specific projects with BLOCK Gallery of Oakland.

Marc Hors & Indira Urrutia

Marc Hors and Indira Urrutia, are the founders and responsible for the project; an itinerant photographic project which moves on bicycles across the American Continent (From Alaska to the Chilean Antarctic) in search of natural, social and cultural values that characterize the countries of the American Continent. They produced a five year long documentary project (2007 – 2012) promoting solidarity, equity, participation and respect among cultures by linking what they learned from human behaviors, beliefs and traditions with environmental and human right issues. The documentation and photographs compiled are being projected in over 400 schools, cultural centers and universities of the 15 countries visited, in order to make known and, thereby, motivate society to develop a shared sense of awareness, knowledge and respect.

Patricia Warren

Patricia Warren's educational background is in art and architecture. With photography, what began with an exploration of natural and built forms has evolved to include a very simple, straightforward form of portraiture, often as a volunteer activity providing portraits to underserved communities ("The Portrait Project"). Patricia likes to play music during her photo shoots, and encourage people to dance as a way of loosening up. Since these portals are about movement, she has decided to include some of her more gestural and dance-like photos of residents of the Tenderloin and SOMA.

Jeffry Thompson

Jeffrey Thompson is a San Francisco based artist concentrating on painting, drawing, and mixed media. He is a long-time Bay Area resident, and he attended De Anza Jr. College in Cupertino, where he began to study drawing and printmaking. This was followed by three years at Cal State University East bay, where he also studied printmaking, followed by a brief stay at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he continued to study printmaking and painting.
In March of 2013, Jeffrey Thompson had a solo show on the campus of Southern Oregon University, and in October of last year his work was consigned to the SFMOMA Artists Gallery at the Fort Mason Center. Thompson was also recently selected for the 2015 San Francisco General Hospital Association’s Hearts in San Francisco project.

Monica Magtoto

Monica Magtoto was born and raised in San Francisco, California. Growing up, she developed a strong fascination with nature and the arts, particularly Victorian, Art Nouveau, Native American, Mexican folk arts, Vintage Sign and Tattoo art, and the San Francisco Mural Arts scene. After attending Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, she returned to her native home and began teaching art at various schools that work with the city's underserved populations of students. She now devotes herself to her own art practice, returning to her passion and sharing her work.

Senseofplace LAB

senseofplace LAB emerges in the interdisciplinary space of art, architecture and social engagement. It was founded as an artistic laboratory by Laurie Halsey Brown in San Francisco in 2008, based on research/art in New York and the Netherlands since 2000. senseofplace LAB develops projects and art works that connect people to place - to facilitate a more meaningful relationship to one’s environment, and create strategies for people to better communicate the value of their communities.

Step 4: Fabrication

The fabrication of the portals consisted of doing as much prep work as we possibly can before the installation night. Since we didn't have access to the scaffolding unit until the day of installation, we were incapable of creating any mockups and had to operate solely off of the measurements from our digital model and the dimensions given to us by the scaffolding sub-contractor. It also meant that we couldn't test our sandwiching concept with the panels.

Fabrication on the 30 panels consisted of two 10 hour days where we:

- Cut each panel to their designated size.

- Installed the backing strips for the support blocks that would bridge the horizontal scaffolding units and support the panels.

- Painted the panels using the laser-cut stencils.

- Assembled the chalk storage ledge underneath the painted chalkboard area.

- Drilled holes for the solar powered lights on the ceiling.

Step 5: Installation

The installation of the panels took place in two phases:

1. The Transportation Phase: we had to drive to each of the artist's homes to pick up their custom art piece and bring it to market street for the final installation. The combination of carrying precious cargo and maneuvering through rush hour city traffic resulted in a slightly elevated heart rate for those involved, but overall it proved a success and the panels were delivered on schedule to their rightful spot on Market Street.

2. The Assembly Phase: since the form of our installation was heavily reliant on the scaffolding structure, we were at the installation mercy of the scaffolding assembly team. During the construction of the first scaffolding unit, we broke into teams and were able to attack each scaffold in an efficient assembly line of teams, each installing a different sequential part of the portal.

With the addition of our photos, we also have a video documenting the two phases of installation as well as the public interaction with the portals.

Step 6: Interaction

The Exchange Portals had an immediate intuitive reaction with the public. People were writing on the chalkboard and walking through the portals before we were even finished installing.

The art featured inside of the panels was auctioned off during the festival, successfully returning a portion of the installation back into the San Francisco community. We also had a Panel Discussion at Gensler with two of the featured artists in the installation.

Overall there was very positive feedback and we had a wonderful time interacting with everyone who had questions about it.

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