Public Forum (Version 1)
Public Forum (Version 1), created by Steve Lambert in 2014 is an interactive, responsive, portable art installation that invites the public to participate in a game show of sorts. The interactive piece is a 7 ft tall, 9 ft wide marquee sign that depicts “Your message here” in black, capitalized lettering. Colorful flashing lights spell out the name of the game show above the message space. On either side of the board are manual scoreboards labeled True and False in chalkboard medium. The aim of the game show is to have the public vote on the message depicted on the piece and further discuss the question with the host, Steve Lambert himself. The messages range from various social issue topics, such as “Slavery is over,” to “I do not have time to take care of myself,” to “Football is more important that Jesus,” and so on.
The piece opens dialogue for varying complex topics that are typically only discussed in organized settings. The game show allows individuals to partake in conversation that delves into one’s own values and beliefs in a public setting.
The set-up of the public forum creates a lightened and unhindered atmosphere centered around prevalent issues. In the technological savvy era we find ourselves in today, public forums are constantly produced and uploaded to different sites, yet we find it easy to hide behind the computer upon response. The polarization of topics is asked to be discussed in public scenes which welcomes vulnerability and empathy to the dialogue.
Lambert strives to quantify opinions through the use of a numeric system. Bonus points may be obtained by the game players on three conditions:
1 - experience
2 - knowledge
3 - wildcard (being any other information they have to share regarding the posed question).
As Lambert decides on the bonus points, one may question the backing of his judgment to the posed questions. Public Forum (Version 1) highlights the importance of understanding what factors play into the numeric system and game as a whole; raising the question: who’s voice is deemed more important than others and who gets to decide that? In a society in which a man’s voice is typically accepted over a woman’s voice, and a white woman’s voice is heard over a woman of color’s voice, the numeric value system forces individuals to understand which opinions typically carry greater weight in their individual day-to-day lives. The forum challenges game participants to learn which opinions are reflective and which may challenge their own through topics of racism, belief, gender, value, and the list goes on. The game show urges participants to stray away from surface level conversation to understand one’s own bias on the topic and the offered opinions.
This installation is one of several works created by Lambert that opens conversation about social issues. In Capitalism Works for Me! True/False, Lambert provides a billboard in Times Square, NY to disrupt the public space to encourage difference of opinions and discuss the topic of capitalism.
Capitalism Works for Me! True/False, similarly to Public Forum (Version 1), creates dialogue centered around opinions. Participants are expected to open up about experiences to further back up their opinion. Both are presented in locations that are fitting to the desired outcome - capitalism and social issues displayed in New York and Alabama, respectively. Location is a large variable that connects the population to the installation, contributing to the functionality of public space.
In relation to location, Luke Dubois challenges public spaces with the installation art piece, Take a Bullet for the City.
This piece challenges observers to understand their position in the gallery along with their position in these settings, as shots fire from a gun unexpectedly. The power behind this installation piece rings with individuals after the fact, to ultimately determine their role in complex social issues, much to the like of Lambert’s installations. By bringing polarized topics to the forefront of public spaces, these installation art pieces create conversation in critical locations.
- Space One Eleven in Birmingham AL, Fall 2014
- CAFK+A Biennial, Kitchener ONT, Summer 2014