In May, we installed out first official public artwork in Edmonton, Alberta. Titled CARBON COPY, the artwork uses a 1988 Plymouth Caravelle to create a pithy monument to car culture in North America. Please see our CARBON COPY blog for more images, concepts, and fabrication details.
CARBON COPY (left) is a surrealist sculpture designed for the site-specific context of Edmonton’s newly re-opened Brewery District. Drawing from a broad history of automobile artworks internationally, CARBON COPY transforms an unremarkable suburban car into an illuminated obelisk, a monument to North America’s car-centric culture, and a glitch in our regular understanding of everyday life.
To create this public artwork, we worked with Calgary-based fabricators F&D Scene Changes to transform a 1988 Plymouth Caravelle by cutting and re-shaping the car into a new form simulating digital glitch aesthetics.
Derived from a “rolling shudder smear,” CARBON COPY is based on scanner manipulations created by sliding an image across the scanner bed while it’s being copied.
Literally flattening a 3D car into a 2D photograph, printing the image, scanning it, and re-creating the 2D image as a 3D sculpture, CARBON COPY re-interprets digital information back into physical form using the raw materiality of a found automobile.
The first step in the fabrication process was literally 3D scanning the jalopy and using the 3D information to create a plan for car cuts and fiberglass parts.
Smeared sections were carved from foam and then hardcoated and fiberglassed by F&D’s expert team.
Structure beams run through the car to hold it vertical. The artwork was then finished (with great precision) and re-painted Ice Blue, a colour it could have been in the 80s.
Details were drawn back into the car, including undercarriage details salvaged from the scrapyard.
The sculpture was wired up with lights – the tail lights and brake lights glow, along with an internal “scanner bar.”
When it came time to install, the entire process took only a few hours. A structural footing had been cast into the concrete ahead of time.
At night, the interior of CARBON COPY glows with a scrolling band of light, aesthetically simulating the light inside a flatbed scanner. This triple-simulation from 3D to 2D and back again illustrates a metaphor for contemporary culture, where information is interpreted, re-interpreted, and misinterpreted in a constant cycle (and re-cycle) of technology, media, and digital space.
Within this complex landscape, glitches and aberrations are sometimes re-absorbed, moving beyond their genesis to become something new, separate, and previously unimaginable – a broken mirror image of their origins.
CARBON COPY creates a narrative of divergent aesthetics: 2D and 3D, real and surreal, raw and refined, digital and physical, comedic and imposing, familiar and new. The resulting work is a strong presence as a sculptural anomaly, designed with strong ties to Edmonton and the broader context of North American culture. Ultimately, we hope the work will become a wayfinding device for patrons of the Brewery District – whether they’re travelling by foot, by bus, or by car, the sculpture will become a familiar fixture in the landscape.
For more information about this artwork, visit our CARBON COPY blog.