At the end of November, I finished a nine-painting commission for HID Global. If you have a key card, to school, work, or a government office, there is a running chance that there are three letters embossed somewhere on it that spell HID. And if there are other letters on your card, there's a pretty good chance that HID is responsible for the technology inside of said card, anyway. They create hardware and software for the security industry, and we the people basically rely upon them to secure many of the people and places that we hold dear.
This project was an adventure for me, as it was my first commission for a corporation. There were two particularly interesting components to this work: first, it involved research into cryptography, security, and circuitboards. The second was that the project had a lot in common with aims and concerns of public art.
Earlier this year, I attended a Denver symposium on public art, where several of the presenters touched on its history and the current ideological climate surrounding its production. The idea of listening of the population that will have to endure the presence of the finished work seemed to be a dominant theme.
Since this commission was going to be installed in an R&D site in Westminster, one of my primary goals was to create something that would connect with the engineers who work at the site. Tom Stephens, the Engineering Manager and visionary for the creation of this commission opportunity, was the liason between myself and the other decision-makers at the company.
The concept we went with went through several iterations, and in the end, we went with something artistic, yet concrete: abstracted, yet accurate depictions of products that HID makes. I was especially intrigued by the more visually complex pieces, which ranged from the inside of the card readers, to specific circuit boards, to the charts that describe the interactions of radio waves. The aim was to include a mixture between the insides and the outsides of the elements across the series so that there would be visual variety in the colors and shapes.
It was a joy to install the work and meet more of the engineers who worked there. My favorite interaction was with a hardware engineer. When asked if the circuit board painting in question was visually accurate, he paused a moment and scrutinized the painting. After a few beats, he said, "This piece needs a little more solder." Then he added, "But that's true in real life," and shot me a smile. I have a hunch that there are probably a handful of things that I overlooked in my interpretation of the circuitboards (all of which engineers would be "voted most likely" to find), but we had a delightful time.
It was a joy to work with the different people and different personalities I encountered along the way.
A big project entails big thanks: to Jonathan Myers, who took many of these pictures and provided essential assistance in varying forms along the way, to Tom Stephens, project visionary and liaison, to the leadership at HID, to Mike Carmon, Sheri Carmon Miller, Brad Miller, Nathan Epperson, the team at Fort Collins Plastics, and many others who helped make this project a reality!