Portland Pamphlets


1900 building City of Portland

<Public Art


Portfolio Writing in English Writing in Chinese Events Biography


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A permanently lighted wall sculpture, measuring 12’ 6”w x 21”h, covers the lobby wall space of the building. The piece is composed of glass and fiber optic light. Layers of text are printed on pieces of glass that open in the form of pamphlets. The texts of many different languages overlap one another, with each maintaining its original script and writing format. e.g. English reads from left to right, Arabic reads from right to left, and Chinese reads from top to bottom starting at the right and so on. Sixty-three individuals contributed texts in twenty-two different languages, all of which addressed the experience of being from or living in Portland, Oregon. A catalogue at the site provides more detailed information about the participants, an English translation of the texts, and details about the process of making the work. The central idea of Portland Pamphlets is that a work of art has to grow from the existing context of history, environment and community. It becomes a coherent part of physical and social reality.

The layout pattern of fiber optic light has relevant reference to Three hexagrams of Yi-Jing, a Chinese ancient script that based on the different arrangement of Yin and Yang. Three hexagrams make eighteen lines. The three hexagrams are chosen and pile up for their metaphor according to the particular function and physical location of the City Development Center. The art work represents the process of beginning-struggling-fulfillment.

The piece is functional as an auxiliary lighting source and illuminated from wall that filters through layers of texts in the plaza area.

Location: City Development Center 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Portland,  Oregon Regional Art & Culture Council / City of Portland, Oregon Bureau of General Service / Yost Grube Hall Architecture

Basic idea of overlapping texts:
The multi-lingual texts in this project address public, physical space, the consciousness of cultural fragments and their inner-woven symbols, and the experience of the different individuals who walk through the public space where the work is sited. To me, language and syntax traditionally are only understood within their own discipline and cultural environment. Therefore, by paralleling and overlapping different original scripts of language with piercing light, I expose the displacement of cultural syntax in contemporary society’s complex structure. I also emphasize the architectural format of the work and suggest a chaotic ambiguity of the texts as a whole.  The penetrating detail of a single word is taken out of its own context.