In the summer of 2012 I was invited, along with five very talented artists to take up residence at the McColl Center for the Visual Arts in Charlotte, NC. Following our residency we were to install our work in an exhibition titled America Now, the opening of which would correspond with the Democratic National Convention, occurring in Charlotte.
Polling Station is an exhibition in two parts, both of which were working out of questions about democracy, citizen agency, and the apparatus of voting. I was curious about why voter turn out was so low in this country, and whether that was due to the representative nature of our elections. What would happen if people normally not given access were invited to literally write the determinant language of the election? And I was also interested as US debated computerized voting machines, what designed objects or buildings did other parts of the world use in it's electioneering.
For the first part, I invited seven artists, writers, and activists, including: Emily Abendroth, Salem Collo-Julin, Brandon C. Cox, Kenyon Farrow, Tate Foley, Geoff Haragdon, R.L. Tillman, to design a ballot that would pose a question to the audience, and then I added a blank write in ballot. As you will see, all eight ballots were deployed and audience members were encouraged to vote on any or all of them in exchange for a take-away poster containing all eight ballots. As people voted the ballots around the installation were changed to reflect the trending voter response. The changing colorway of the installation could be quickly read as living information graphic.
Neil Cleary-Trask and Harry Murtha collaborated on ballot design, pre-press, and fabrication.
The second part of my contribution to Democracy Now was a suite of drawings investigating voting architecture from around the world. These drawings were hung on two walls in the gallery, and my drawings were extended onto the walls to create temporary murals depicting a strange mash-up from elections around the world.