6 simple letters.
6 simple windows.
7 simple words.
Volumes of complexity.
Walk along 9th Street just east of the Gowanus Canal at night, and you’ll see a crisp, new “display” that projects a series of words through six windows located at 61 9th Street, home to the Gowanus Loft.
“It hit me one a day a few weeks ago,” says Worthington. “I was feeling angry. The idea struck me like a bolt.”
And so he set up a projector in their performance, installation, and workspace which uses six large windows to serve as a visual palate for some very potent words:
President Donald Trump and his White House team have raised the ire of many in this borough, and artists are speaking out in droves. Nine domestic programs are on the chopping block, including the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.
And while the arts are being threatened, Worthington’s creative response is a powerful message using letters and light.
Worthington began with a single projection of the word RESIST and chose to add six others last night, March 1, when we stopped by the loft. “It started out as a still image, but today I was pushing a little more,” he says.
We are soon joined by long-time collaborator and Vanderbilt Republic‘s Founder and Creative Director George Del Barrio.
After giving Worthington a bear hug, Del Barrio gleefully views the windows. “Do you see what my man is doing with only 5,000 lumens?” Del Barrio asks me.
The Camera Obscura/Gowanus exhibit they created last year was also a feat of angles, lights, and potent visuals. The duo has fostered a vocabulary which allows the technical to easily become experiential.
While the words seem simply rendered when viewed from outside, the technical part doesn’t come easy. “The angle is from an extreme throw. There’s geometry involved,” Worthington says.
Even the order of the words is potent. Worthington explains that they rotate after three seconds. “RESIST lasts a little longer,” he says.
RACIST, REGIME, and SCREAM dissolve into each other, a chilling message on the mostly deserted 9th Street, with only the occasional car or bus whisking by.
ENLIST dissolves into RESIST. It’s comforting, lonely, and yet inclusive. Spiritual.
Subway riders passing by on the Smith-9th Street elevated F/G trains can view it as they look downwards.
Del Barrio admits that he and Worthington are “two font type nerds.” Right now, they’re using Trade Gothic.
But his mind is percolating with ideas as he considers the next steps for the project. “This canvas can be re-used for other folks to come in with their ideas,” Del Barrio says. “Maybe we’ll get some words going in Cyrillic. And Chinese.”
Artistic responses to Trump are showing up in theater, dance, visual art, and more. Irondale Ensemble is readying their series Not Normal: Art in Resistance In the Time of Trump, which opens this weekend. And Open Source Gallery/Vanderbilt Republic/The People Movers recently closed an installation with performances that spoke to today’s racial and political atmosphere.
And while the meaning in this particular project seems evident, Worthington doesn’t speak in concepts. “It comes from something more primal,” he says. “There’s not necessarily any intent.”