Shotgun Review

Entropic Growth

By Shotgun Reviews January 10, 2011

Yerba Buena Gardens is now home to the site-specific, computer-generated virtual sculpture Entropic Growth, by Christopher Manzione. In March 2010, Manzione sited fourteen virtual sculptures in eleven locations throughout the world. The virtual sculptures are computer-generated iterations of a physical sculpture on view at the Socrates Sculpture Park, in Long Island City, New York. Manzione uses satellite mapping to site each virtual work in a different city. Viewers download a free application to their smartphones that directs them to the precise location of the sculptures. The application creates an augmented reality (the overlaying of digital data on top of real-world physical environments), permitting the viewer a visual encounter with the virtual artwork in a public space.

The experience of interrogating this work of art is entirely mediated by technology. A glitch in the software prevents viewers from moving inside the sculpture or viewing it in its entirety. Furthermore, the materiality of the site-specific, outdoor location also complicates the experience of viewing the computer-generated work: bright sunlight, for example, alters one’s ability to view the screen at certain angles.

Privately viewing an invisible sculpture in a public place multiplies the intervention twofold. Manzione’s work complicates the question of what exactly constitutes public space in the virtual frontier―a frontier that he claims is already closing, as he now pays for permits in many cities in 

Entropic Growth, 2010; computer-generated iteration of a physical sculpture, from the Symmetry and Growth online exhibition. Courtesy of the Artist and the Virtual Public Art Project.

order to site his projects. A viewer’s encounter with his work does occur in a public space, though the nature and purpose of the encounter is only known by and accessible to the individual holder of the smartphone. Viewers in fact perform their own interventions in order to engage with the virtual sculpture, since their wandering is what remains visible to, and interpretable by, other viewers in the garden. In this way, it is the spectacle of someone attempting to locate an invisible artwork and track it using the screen of their smartphone that expands both the boundaries of common space and the concept of a public imaginary into the virtual frontier. 



Entropic Growth is on view at Yerba Buena Gardens, in San Francisco, through February 2011.



Kris Timken is a dual degree MFA/MA candidate in Social Practice and Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts.

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