Palo Alto's Totally Tubular Art

'Code:ART' festival features some totally tubular public art
Future Cities Lab's contribution to the Code:ART festival is the 'Murmur Wall," which displays nearby tweets.

For the first weekend in June, several artists will be transforming downtown Palo Alto into a public art installation. The Code:ART festival, in its pilot year, will unfurl a set of "urban interventions" and "creative placemaking" loosely centered between University and Hamilton avenues. The city's online map of the project suggests an obstacle course made of interactive art for kids and adults alike.

For museumgoers willing to forsake air-conditioned interiors, Code:ART promises to engage pedestrians with urban architectural spaces that are often overlooked.

First on the walking tour is the Murmur Wall by Future Cities Lab. The late Sen. Ted Stevens' renowned description of the internet is remarkably apropos of this intervention. "It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled..." And they are filled—with online activity that's "harvested" from nearby tweets and searches. For the inventors, Nataly Gattegno and Jason Kelly Johnson, they summarize our digital behavior with this query: "What will the city be thinking, seeing, and feeling in the near future?" The answers are displayed on screens attached to acrylic tubes and illuminated by violet LED lights (they are shared only once, and then purged).

On the analog end of the spectrum stands Kyu Kim and Hanna Joo's The Pavilion (which looks like several pavilions) made out of repurposed blue recycle bins. It's not entirely clear from the artist's rendering and statement how "the installation creates a sense of community to share the spatial experience" but they certainly look like they'll brighten up a Bryant Street alleyway.

In Safe and Sound by Tomo Saito, an auditory experience on Emerson Street will interrupt business as usual there. Alone, you'll sit down in one of the eight chairs and a track will play. When eight seats are filled, all of the tracks will play in harmony together. Saito's piece, like the other installations, exemplifies what DeMarzo states are the festival's intentions, "Palo Alto's population doubles each day with tech commuters, Stanford affiliates and visitors—how do we get them involved?"

If you'd like to join a conversation about the role artists can play in reshaping public spaces, Code:ART begins at noon on June 1 with a lunch and panel discussion at the Institute for the Future, one of the festival's partner organizations.

Jun 1-3, Free
Downtown, Palo Alto

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