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July 22, 2005
Sayed Alavi has been making public art and installations for several years, but this project especially caught my interest. Here is his explanation and some photos:
A Site Specific Public Art Project for the Sacramento International Airport
This project consists of an aerial view of the Sacramento River that is woven into a carpet for the floor of a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to the parking garage. This image represents approximately 50 miles of the Sacramento River starting just outside of Colusa, California and ending about 6 miles south of Chico.
In addition to recalling the experience of flight and flying, this piece, by depicting the larger geographical area, also helps to reinforce a sense of belonging and/or connection for the traveler. In this way, the carpet can also be read and experienced as a "welcome mat" for visitors arriving in Sacramento. The siting of this piece on a bridge also helps to highlight a few other conceptual aspects of the work. A bridge is a connection between two destinations; it is not a destination in and of itself; it is neither here, nor there. In this way it is similar to an airplane, or a river connecting one place to another; here to there; a moment of flight frozen in mid air; a flowing river that takes us along with its current to another destination. In this way, the piece also creates a koanic relationship between a river and a bridge, since their ordinary positions have been turned around, and it is now the river that is on/above the bridge.
By working with carpeting in this context, I have been able to transform something quite ordinary into an extra-ordinary aesthetic experience. This apparently simple gesture, integrates multiple layers of harmonious meanings and references, in order to stimulate a conceptual dialog. Ultimately, however it was my intention with this project to present a fun and humorous situation for laughter and play, where travelers will feel rejuvenated and reminded of the magic of flight.
He writes, via email: I utilized aerial photos that were taken as survey photos, I found them via the internet actually. Then I processed them in photoshop and reduced them down to sixteen colors, the maximum available for the carpet. Then the carpet was custom woven by a company in Ireland, Ulster Carpet; they usually do this for casinos, big hotels, etc...
You can check out his other projects at his website