The site-specific artwork, titled “Climate Clocks (Abstraction Devices)” and created by Janet Zweig, was recently unveiled at the Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Harley and Bessie Knox Branch Library.
Completed in 2018, the artwork consists of three kinetic sculptures mounted to the library’s interior walls. The sculptural installation is inspired in part by the artistic tradition of fore-edge painting in which decorative scenes are painted on the edges of book pages.
Each sculpture, comprised of a huge wheel of paper, is mounted to the wall on a primary hub that then links to a second hub with a motor that very slowly pulls the paper onto it.
Painted on the face of each wheel of paper is an image depicting a scene from San Diego’s ecology, including the ocean, canyons and reservoirs. As the secondary hub accumulates the paper, each traditional landscape will unwind into a beautiful abstract image on the fore-edge of the secondary hub and figuration will become abstraction.
Each of the three sculptures functions as an ecological “clock” using scientific data to determine the rate of its rotation. The pace of the paper’s transfer from one hub to the other varies for each of the sculptures. Zweig worked with local scientists to determine rates of change to the ecologies depicted, including changes to local reservoirs, sea-level and canyons.
Each sculpture’s motor is timed to correspond with this scientific data in real-time, resulting in an artwork that is a poetic record of changes to our landscape, unraveling slowly over time.