FAD chats with Halfslant about their recent roof top installation in New York

halfslant

Last week on May 27th, Halfslant was invited to do a two night installation on the top of a Bushwick loft space in Brooklyn. The residents asked for something specifically to spice up the rooftop. As a group which engages mainly in site specific installation, they proceeded to turn the entire loft roof into a light box using found animal x-rays, an old spinnaker sail and several hundred yards of neon pink shoelace. More photos can be seen on here.

FAD caught up with Halfslant to ask some questions about the installation, here’s what they said:

How did you come up with the idea to do a lightbox?
We had found a whole series of animal x-rays and were fascinated by the impulse to just lift them up to a light and look at them. It was a natural fit for the roof top and we could see it working right away.

Why these materials?
The sail pieces, translucent and thin, were a perfect material to act as the loft’s lightbox, delivering plenty of light through the x-rays. The neon pink shoelace was used as a sort of threading, keeping the sails taught and aloft. The pink was the only real palpable color, but it was so bright, and the day was so overcast that it worked well.

Why the maze of pink shoelace?
Initially, we had imagined the x-rays covering the entirety of the roof. But since it is a space regularly used by the tenants to barbecue, smoke and hang out, we chose to break the installation up into a more sectioned work. It was also a massive space that spanned the whole size of the building. We decided to use the pink shoelace as a sort of guide which forced the viewer to walk the length of the installation, starting from the rooftop doors.

How did the installation change over the course of its life?
Gusty winds and erratic weather conditions provided an ever changing environment, altering the installation in some really interesting ways. Thelightbox sails were at times whipped violently by the wind, and other times lulled into a soft wave. Beneath the sails and through the chain link fence, the x-rays also changed their hues, as the lights of Manhattan become visible all around and even through the images on thelightboxes.

The most effective aspect of the installation was probably the large central sail, could you talk some about that?
It was extraordinarily difficult to put up. For one, that piece was so large and caught so much wind that we were afriad it would either blow off the roof or take one of us with it. We ended up using a series of anchors and ties, both to the chain-link fence that surrounds the rooftop, and to the exhaust pipes coming out of the building. The sail’s movement and shifting light were incredible, and with certain gusts it was pretty scary to be underneath.

What’s next for this lightbox?
We’re now very eager to do a larger scale of this. We’ve thought about netting, scarves, socks, fabrics, photos, prints, old posters, pretty much anything that can catch the wind. The three main materials can be altered, and we learned a lot about how to keep things anchored properly. Conceptually, there are many things at play here – found materials, environmental changes, and spatial requirements – but our main focus as an art group is always to match the elements of the work with the people and places that it interacts with.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018

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