gabriela salazar

[Presented to Percent for Art for PS 163, Queens — May 2013.]

Building Key is about “seeing” the built environment as active; a relational entity that acts as a lens, filter, container, and record of information and experience.

The piece riffs off of various design and construction decisions from the original structure of PS 163 and the new addition. By isolating existing shapes and symbols of the material and physical composition of the school buildings, a “set” of pieces is assembled that can then be composed and played with. Infinite iterations play out the malleability and possibility inherent in our built world, while also making visible a history and continuum of design decisions specific to PS 163. Suggesting "picture making," the shapes will be placed in clusters throughout the hallways, tucked discreetly and singly in corners, or parade as a scroll of characters along an entire wall. Omnipresent, the shapes become active characters in the school, and part of a scavenger hunt or game of hide-and-seek for the students to discover. Some shapes will also be placed in the original building, further melding the histories and design vernaculars of the two sites.

Additionally, a number of these building shapes will be interpainted into the windows of the entrance vestibule and the cafeteria skylights. These transparent shapes will be informed by the changing light coming through the windows, casting additional shapes upon the static wall shapes in seasonal and weather-dependent ways. As this added light and color element brings the forces of nature and the outside into the school building, we are reminded that the school is not a closed system, but in constant flux and relationship to the exterior and its location.