My first installation for the Diana Tamari Sabbagh medical building at the American University of Beirut manifested in the form of a nail-string art installation. I borrowed the quote,"Science is Magic that Works", from American novelist Kurt Vonnegut as a bridge between the Arts and Sciences.
Awkwardly posing in front of the monster-in-the-making
Material: - Paper
- Blue tack - 2,000+ nails
- A hammer (or many, in my case) - 2 kilometers or 12 balls of yarn (in blue, green, magenta and red)
1. Print quote onto a large sheet of paper
2. Stick sheet onto wood using blue tack
3. Hammer nails onto outline of words and frame
4. Rip the paper out
5. Loop yarn from one nail to the other (until fingertips bleed)
*Before beginning string work, I split the wooden mural into four quarters, so that each section would dedicated to a particular color of yarn. My intention was that the colors bleed into one another, creating a spectral flow between the quatrains.
Jamal creating a red yarn outline for the last quarter of the mural.
During the yarn blitz, professors and medical students flowed out of elevators into their laboratories and back again, inevitably walking past my workspace. Many asked questions, especially during the initial phases when it was unclear what sort of sorcery I was engaged in. As the yarn spun thicker and the letters began to emerge in the negative space, the general attitude swayed from inquisition to wonderment.
Most were outwardly supportive of the project, stopping by during breaks to eyeball the work-in-progress, sharing un/solicited advice and snapping pictures. A minority had their objections regarding the selected quote in that it dared to compare something as pragmatic as science to the whimsy of magic.
Culturally, there seems to be a heavy line drawn between the Arts and Sciences even though both fields grapple with major questions such as: “What is true? Why does it matter? How can we move society forward?". Dialogue is good. If this mural inspires it, so be it.