SFAC

Artists get a chance to reminisce about leaving the city in a new public installation.

San Francisco might be driving out normal folks with its median rent of $4,535, but with a new public artwork they’re getting a chance to talk back. Gaze up at the windows of downtown’s Civic Center and you’ll see mysterious, flashing lights—Morse-Code messages from people who’ve actually been displaced from the city.

The installation, called Wish You Could Have Seen This, was conceived by local multimedia whiz Ma Li, who sourced the quotes from one of the populations typically among the first to be priced-out—artists. At night, the coded messages disappear and are replaced by images of art created by displaced artists, forming a gone-but-not-forgotten tribute to a fractured community.

The trove of messages will be regularly updated, according to the San Francisco Arts Commission:

While developing the idea for her installation, Ma noted the many artists she knows who have recently moved away from San Francisco. Wish You Could Have Seen This provides a platform for displaced artists to reflect on their circumstances—whether the move came from a new job, a change in their lifestyle, or an untenable rent increase—and a place to share their thoughts in the center of San Francisco. A call for artists will be sent out asking for new messages and images of artwork to be added throughout the run of the exhibition, establishing a virtual network that transcends geographical barriers. “[Wish You Could Have Seen This] is a statement from an art community that contributed to the culture of this city,” Ma states.

The artwork will be visible to anybody on the sidewalk until it comes down in the fall. If you weren’t raised by old-timey telegraph operators, brush up on your Morse Code beforehand to crack its wistful layers of meaning. (Or, if you so choose, in the window near the lights are instructions for downloading a translation app.) 

SFAC

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

  2. photo: a woman on an electric scooter
    Transportation

    Why Aren’t More Women Riding Electric Scooters?

    Most users of micromobility devices like dockless scooters and e-bikes are young men. Fixing that gender gap may take more than just adding safety features.

  3. photo: a high-speed train in Switzerland
    Transportation

    The Case for Portland-to-Vancouver High-Speed Rail

    At the Cascadia Rail Summit outside Seattle, a fledgling scheme to bring high-speed rail from Portland to Vancouver found an enthusiastic reception.

  4. A Charles Booth map of streets north of London's Hyde Park.
    Maps

    19th-Century London’s Extreme Wealth and Poverty, Mapped

    Charles Booth’s famous maps of Victorian London offer a chance to reflect on how the city has changed—and how it hasn’t.

  5. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

×