The process for realizing “Color Forest (Color on Bland Street)”, in Charlotte, NC, began with the initial conversations about surrounding the Master Plan for incorporating public art onto the Rail Trail. Center City Partners and David Furman have spearheaded the initiative to activate the linear trail with art.
Artist Ivan Toth Depeña was approached to begin brainstorming for several sites and thinking about the overall goals. “Color Forest” began as a concept to integrate a modular system of color installations that would in essence tie the Rail Trail together cohesively. In other words, to create a project that could be expanded to other site in the future. Inspired by the use of the trail, Depeña focused on the idea of motion to activate an otherwise, static sculptural installation. Drawing from early experiments in Film/Motion Pictures, Depeña recalled the works or Eadweard Muybridge and his development of the “zoetrope”. A zoetrope is one of several pre-film animation devices that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs showing progressive phases of that motion. You may recall Muybridge’s famous circular object with a horse photographed (as a sequence of images) in the process of galloping. When the ring is turned, the images blend together and the horse appears to move realistically.
These early devices depend visual phenomenon such as “persistence of vision” where your brain essentially stitches sequential images together in order to replicate physical motion. In Color Forest, the linear gradations of color are intended to be experienced at different traveling speeds and therefore, rendering different experiences based on the viewer’s movement. The result is the blending of color and the dynamic activation of the work. If you experience the installation on the CATS Light Rail, the effect will be sped up compared to riding bikes or the most contemplative, walking.
At its simplest interpretation, Color Forest is intended to add another playful, colorful art installation to the Rail Trail. However, it can be also be reviewed as a contemplative study of our physiological responses to movement and our relationships to both time and space.