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Eclipse S U R V E Y at the Gibbes

About five years ago I put the date August 21, 2017, down in my calendar. I have always been interested and excited to learn about celestial events. When hearing about the eclipse, which is now 10 days away, I was watching an episode of The Universe about eclipse phenomena. Needless to say, I was hooked. And when I saw that totality was going to be visible in South Carolina I began planning and researching for what has now become the Eclipse S U R V E Y project.

Eclipse  S U R V E Y equipment

Eclipse S U R V E Y equipment

In the summer of 2016, I came up with the idea of the Eclipse S U R V E Y project after an artist residency at Spruce Peak in Stowe, Vermont, where I completed an outdoor eight-month residency and produced an exhibition called S U R V E Y. Through the S U R V E Y series, I created work that was less about itself and more about looking out at the environment around the work with a heightened sense of awareness. The Eclipse S U R V E Y project is about conceptually strengthening our bond in witnessing and recording this eclipse event as it happens across the United State of America. This is a unique moment where we will all stop and reflect on the amazing scientific truth that is the solar eclipse. A moment when the earth, moon, and sun are in alignment with space, time, and our own intellect and presence. I have never observed a solar eclipse and I am beyond excited to see this one. The Lenhardt Garden at the Gibbes Museum will be an incredible setting for such a once in a lifetime event.

Eclipse  S U R V E Y equipment

Eclipse S U R V E Y equipment

Eclipse S U R V E Y at the Gibbes is an installation and event in one as part of their Total Eclipse of the Art celebration on August 21. We have been developing an interactive public-art experience to enhance viewing, listening to, and feeling the eclipse. Eclipse S U R V E Y will be a SiteTime specific art installation designed to enhance the phenomenal experience of witnessing the upcoming eclipse from the Gibbes Museum of Art. The installation will incorporate a variety of technologies to record and also transmit live images, sound, and phenomena associated with the eclipse. Telescopes, time-lapse and live-stream cameras, solar panels, and a solar-powered water pump will be installed in various locations around the galleries and garden at the Gibbes to record the sight, sound, and temperature (feel) of the eclipse. A live video feed generated from the telescope in the garden will be projected in the Museum’s Fellows Reception Hall. As visitors enter the Museum and walk down the hallway towards the Lendhart Garden, the live footage will be oriented ahead and act as a light at the end of the tunnel. A variety of other eclipse-related information will be presented inside including NASA’s live stream of the eclipse.

Artist Michael Zebrowski models a prototype of the Observer eclipse viewing glasses.

Artist Michael Zebrowski models a prototype of the Observer eclipse viewing glasses.

As part of the project, we designed and produced eclipse glasses to allow safe viewing in all eclipse contact phases. There are two designs: Surveyors, a premium pair made with laser cut plywood, and Observers, an economy pair made of laser cut mat board and plywood. Anyone using these glasses during the eclipse becomes a participant in Eclipse S U R V E Y whether on Pacific Coast of Oregon, the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, the plains of Illinois, or in the charming historic town of Charleston. Participants are encouraged to complete a short written survey after viewing the eclipse event and also to take a selfie while wearing our Surveyors and Observers during the time of greatest eclipse. We will collect the surveys and the selfies through the #eclipsesurvey hashtag on various social media platforms and they will be archived and formatted for a future exhibition which will present multiple modes of documentation from the Eclipse S U R V E Y project.

Production of wood-framed Surveyor eclipse viewing glasses at UP END THIS studio.

Production of wood-framed Surveyor eclipse viewing glasses at UP END THIS studio.

Artist Michael Zebrowski models the "Hockney" style of Surveyor eclipse viewing glasses.

Zebrowski sporting the “Hockney” style of Surveyor eclipse viewing glasses.

Eclipse S U R V E Y at the Gibbes is about enhancing public awareness and experience regarding the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017, through product design, public art, and community engagement. The public involvement in this work is the work. We are the Observers and Surveyors and our memories are the recording devices. Come participate!

Michael Zebrowski, artist and founder of UP END THIS studio, and guest blogger
August 11, 2017

UP END THIS is a public art and design studio founded by artist, designer, and educator Michael Zebrowski. The concept behind the studio identity is at its root about turning something on its head to see it differently and better understand it through observation and analysis. The total eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017, is a perfect subject for the studio—it isn’t every day that we experience the transition between night and day so rapidly. Our hope is to help slow down time in this moment and help the public understand more about the experience that is seeing, feeling, hearing, and sharing a total eclipse of the sun.

UP END THIS is Michael Zebrowski, Artist and Designer; Marty De Geus, Film and Fabrication Assistant; and Ian Walker, Graphic Designer

Eclipse S U R V E Y is made possible in part by a grant from the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts.

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