Water and wind built Salem. Water carried the fishermen in their boats to the shores of Salem to settle. Wind enabled Salem’s merchant ships to sail across the ocean. From these ships treasures and trade were brought and sold at Town Hall, building a seaside village into a city. TradeWind is conceived as a piece which both honors and celebrates the role that these elements and Town Hall have played in the growth of the city, creating a dynamic installation of spinning houses, combined to form the shape of Salem Town Hall.
These individual houses are made in two colors: Cyan and Yellow, Invoking the exotic waters of far-flung lands that provided importers with treasures and spices – such as jewelry and saffron – referenced in the yellow houses. Additionally, a magenta wave is painted on the field of poles through a process of projective mapping. Together the use, of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and White, serve as a reminder of the collectivity that is made up of its constituent parts much like the colors of the spectrum are combined from the four print colors of CMYK.
This hidden wave is revealed from specific vantage points when the individual house-shaped pinwheels are in full motion, calling to attention the cinematic quality of motion and the opportunities to hide and inscribe motion with meaningful signs and culturally imagery much like the 18th century child’s toy of the thaumatrope.
The houses are constructed from high density polyethylene you would find cladding a child’s book report. Through triangulated and curved folding, the silhouette of the house takes shape while merging with the helical nature of a vertical axis wind turbine. During the daytime these houses showcase the fluid and changeable effects of wind and water while serving as a tribute to the fact that cities only exist as the sum of their parts.
At night, they are lit from within projecting onto the face of town hall, giving observers the privilege of glimpsing something that predecessors could not: growth. Collectively, the two halves of town hall are placed in order to draw individuals from the northern commerce center of Essex street down into Derby Square and the Salem Arts District acting as visual breadcrumbs that consecutively draw your eye through picturesque motion and high chromatic contrast.
This installation is both a nod to the past and a glimpse towards the future and a celebration of generations of individuals who have built and continue to build Salem. op.AL, HiJAC, and Stephanie Imbeau received this commission from the City of Salem through an annual call for Architects + Artists. The piece will be on display throughout the summer and autumn of 2016. We would like to thank Deborah Greel, Lilian Hsu, Amanda Moore, and Kylie Sullivan of the City of Salem’s Art Commission for the support of this project as well as Mayor Kim Driscoll.