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Creative Research Lab

Plots and Schemes - April 2005

sculpture by Mark Schatz

Mark Schatz
Commuter, 2005
topographical model of three daily drives (vertical 20X)
MDF, tape, paint
approx. 160" x 55" x 45" h

After the recent spate of hurricanes in Florida, I saw an interview with a resident whose neighborhood had been torn apart by the storms. She had been working for several days, side-by-side with her neighbors removing debris from one another's homes and yards. Her comment was that she had never met most of her neighbors before and that it was funny how it took something like a hurricane to bring people together.

Currently, though less capricious and destructive than Mother Nature, my work is engaged with this same task of disruption in the form of "interventions." Rather than using artistic devices for the purposes of representation, I am using them to reveal representation where none was expected. As an artist, I might bring an issue to the table, but the interventionist's job is to point out that the issue is on the table. There is a fog of familiarity that enshrouds our daily activity. This series of exercises is designed to part that fog, if only briefly.

The image of the endlessly repeated detached housing of the suburbs has become an icon of contemporary America. I grew up in various mid-west suburbs and, after shunning them in favor of an urban lifestyle, I live in them once again with my wife and daughter in Austin. Contemporary dialogue does not reach very far into suburban life. The challenge is to work directly in the suburban environment, revealing the invisible relationships between the people, structures, and systems that define it.

This is a search for an authentic suburban identity.