Statement from ASC regarding artwork at Silos of SouthEnd

Statment from the Arts & Science Council regarding a story scheduled to air on WSOC-TV Friday, October 29, 2010, 5pm as part of their Whistleblower 9 series.

The story is regarding a piece of art located at the Silos of SouthEnd at South Boulevard and Remount Road.  The Arts & Science Council was hired by a private developer to assist in the project and present a variety of artworks for his selection.

This artwork was privately funded.  No public dollars were used for the artwork.

A Channel 9 viewer who has a “red laser” application for his IPhone scanned the barcode located on the woman’s face and it pulled up a purchasing site for an adult video.

After investigation and concluding the timeline of when the artwork was created and the release of the “red laser” application for the IPhone and the movie, this is an unfortunate coincidence.

The following information has been provided to WSOC-TV:

  1. the artwork was created in 2007 and installed in June 2008, but the movie identified when the barcode is typed in Google was not released until August 18, 2008;
  2. the “red laser” application for the IPhone, that scans barcodes, was not launched until around May 2009. We understand that other mobile phone applications will not locate this product when scanning the barcode;
  3. the artwork was purchased by the property developer who later went bankrupt.  The bank that foreclosed on the site now owns everything on the site – including the artwork; and
  4. Zack Northington, the artist, and the Arts & Science Council have no control over the artwork and no further information of the site status.

There was no wrongdoing here because:

  1. the concept of using barcodes on cellphones to navigate to a website did not exist when the artwork was created;
  2. the movie that is now linked to the barcode did not exist when the artwork was created;
  3. that the artwork was selected because it received a “Best in Show” award at the January 2008 National Arts Program annual competition held at the City/County government center; and
  4. at the time the artwork was created there was no expectation that it would be part of a privately owned display of art in a public setting.

ASC is disappointed that, based on the facts, WSOC is creating a story that would drive traffic to this adult purchasing site, which is clearly not endorsed or supported by ASC. We are also disappointed that the integrity of the artist, Zack Northington, who obviously could not see into the future, could be called into question in this story.  Based on the facts as we know them, he could not have anticipated that someday a component of his artwork could be used to navigate adult content over the internet.

Statement sent to Scott Wickersham with WSOC-TV on October 10, 2010

Statement from the Arts & Science Council regarding “Ignorance is Strength”by Zack Northington for Silos on South Blvd

In January 2008, artist Zack Northington received the “Best in Show” award for his artwork “Ignorance is Strength” at the City/County National Arts Program annual competition held at the Government Center. During this period, developer Tim Crawford of Citiline Resortline was creating site plans for a mixed use development, on South Blvd. just below Remount Rd. A series of eight silos, previously used for storage by a concrete company, were dominant features on the site and the landscape.

No public dollars were used for the artwork.

Crawford’s concept was to create an arts-focused development, and to use artwork on the silos to brand the development and attract pre-sales. Crawford approached the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) public art staff to assist in the project. During a six-month period he considered many artworks for placement on the silos.

Crawford wanted large colorful forms, and a grouping of three contrasting images to capture the attention of viewers, traveling by car along South Blvd., or by light rail. Crawford selected Zack Northington’s piece as one of the three artworks. It was
installed in June 2008, but the particular artwork was created in 2007.

It was brought to our attention yesterday that, the barcode in Northington’s work could be used on certain web applications as a product identifier for an adult movie. Our initial investigation shows that this appears to be an unfortunate coincidence.
ASC has no reason to believe that the product association was created or intended by the Artist.

1. The artwork was created in 2007 and installed in June, 2008, but the movie identified when the barcode is typed in Google was not released until August 18, 2008.

2. The “red laser” app for the IPhone, that scans barcodes, was not launched until around May 2009. We understand that other mobile phone applications will not locate this product when scanning the barcode.

3. An article titled “3 Silos, 3 Visions” about the artwork was published in The Charlotte Observer on June 26, 2008. The story, written by former visual arts editor Richard Maschal, states:

Zach Northington loves science fiction, photography too.

Reading George Orwell's classic “1984,” he was struck by the story of
how a tyrannical government can control its citizens. That led him to
create a photograph of a girl, her face cropped, her blue eye made
even more blue. Using a computer, Northington added a bar code to
her face “to portray the message that people can be what society
makes them.”

Now, much to his surprise, his photo will be part of Charlotte's newest
public art piece….

Obviously ASC does not endorse the movie associated with the barcode.

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