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Luis Jacob
Flashlight

May 4 - September
15, 2005

Artist Statement

The message “EVERYBODY'S GOT A LITTLE LIGHT UNDER THE SUN” appears this spring at the Toronto Sculpture Garden. This message is written upon an LED sign framing a climbing dome above which hovers a mirror ball. The electric sign and the mirror ball's motor are powered by two different sources situated on the Sculpture Garden's grounds.

These two power sources are contingent both on the climate's variations and the activities of the Garden's visitors: solar panels are installed to capture available sunlight and convert it to electrical energy; alternately, bicycle pedals attached to hidden electrical generators are installed to transform visitors' muscle power also into electricity.

The solar source powers the motor of the rotating mirror ball suspended above a geodesic climbing dome that is the central focus of the entire installation. This dome – and the playful behaviour it elicits – is observed from a platform equipped with seating and the bicycle pedals that transforms the energy voluntarily exerted by visitors into electricity to power the LED sign overhead: EVERYBODY'S GOT A LITTLE LIGHT....

FLASHLIGHT is the site of a utopian proposal. Its LED message is derived from the Parliament song OFlash Light', written by George Clinton, Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins. It establishes a relationship between the installation as a whole and the aspirations for self-transcendence and social union embodied in Funk culture from the 1970s. Installed in the Toronto Sculpture Garden today, this sculptural ensemble proposes that playful personal interaction is a source of power parallel to the natural power of the sun under which we are all equal. The sun shines in the same way for sister and brother, for rich and poor, for citizen and alien, for bodies Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White. Equally, we each carry within us an inner spark – an innate agency to manifest individually and to concentrate collectively within that regulated and regimented terrain known as the public sphere.

At a time like today marked by oil wars, electrical black-outs, increasing disillusionment about the sustainability of our manners of consumption, and a fiercely contested socio-political realm that is redefining the meaning of democracy under global capitalism, FLASHLIGHT can be seen as a utopian proposition for what may well be an as-yet-untapped form of power. • Luis Jacob

FLASHLIGHT was produced with support from the Ontario Arts Council, Hutcheson Sand and Mixes (for providing CSA-compliant granite playground sand), Henderson Recreation Equipment Ltd., Ideal Design / Build Inc., and All Aboard Youth Ventures

Luis Jacob,FLASHLIGHT, 2005; LED signage, geodesic dome playground equipment, disco ball, image bank, Muskoka chairs, bicycle pedals, solar panels on steel pole, electrical generator, sand

* Recipient of one of the two Viewer's Choice Awards, 2006