I was deeply inspired by Wodiczko’s work. I think art often alienates people when it is confined to the gallery space, in such a sense, there is a selection effect where people who are already comfortable in that gallery environment will be the only one’s exposed to the work. He brings his work to public spaces, often using the stories of real people as the central focus of his work, exposing issues, opening the arena for public discussion (much as Habermas imagined) and at the same time, providing a social catharsis. Even the choice of projecting images upon established buildings reflects how the human element of a place is influenced by and capable of influencing the established structures.
His projections on the Central Public Library in St. Louis were especially moving. He incorporated the stories of people who lost family members as well as people who had been incarcerated, in such a sense showing that there is an underlying structural issue at hand and that there are victims on both sides. In this piece, and in many others, he projected images of only the person’s hands. To me, this is brilliant. He gives the speaker a small sense of anonymity and prevents the viewer from making assumptions about the speaker based on the way they look. Additionally, we use our hands to articulate, to cue our own thought processes as we recall the past, to grip at anger, to reveal flashes of enthusiasm. In the book “Understanding Comics,” Scott McCloud explains that humans will instinctively see a face out of the most basic combination of shapes and that cartoons are particularly effective because their non-descript features allow people to project themselves onto the characters. Along this line of logic, by focusing on a person’s hands,Wodiczko work allows the viewer to ‘project themself’ upon the image of person projected onto the wall.