Illuminating Student Debt – Feedback from Art in Odd Places

For two nights the Illuminator team and I projected onto the Salvation Army Building on 14th st. between 6th and 7th ave. The block was the site of Parson’s Art in Odd Places festival – the program was called Sidewalk.

Brief Overview of Project

Illuminating Student Debt seeks to intervene with the public and cultivate critical dialogue around an urgent issue by offering projections, mobile technology interaction and responsive visual display. Projecting the question ‘what does student debt mean to you?’ – interspersed with facts and figures about the student debt crisis – pedestrians were able to text message responses for immediate public display.


Illuminating Student Debt – Very Rough Cut Video

Lessons Learned

I had the great pleasure of sharing this project with Krysztof Wodiczko, who kindly took time to come down, check out the work and give feedback. I was equally blessed to have feedback from my friend Andria Morales and two interviewees who took time to give thoughts on camera. Here’s the break down.


Overall, humanize the work for the audience. Use less text to make connections. Focus on the iconic structure. project at 90 degrees. Beware of surrounding ambient light. Never use half tones under 16000 lumens. The talk about structure and people’s interaction, build connections that create a space. Use motion with less text. Build curiosity with the viewer, draw them in. He also talks a lot about using sound. He talks about using images and text to make connections and revelation. Give the audience some tangible takeaway that allows them to feel apart of something, some connection to the piece. Basically, build human connection to the piece.

– I’ve thought about using images and text in creating a type of voice in the work. This is a way to frame the issue of the content. Could be many things, but in the end I thought about branding. Concerning student debt, we could use sallie mae slogans to advertise demise and misfortune. A type of branding might work well, but it takes away from the human communication. About the housing crisis, projecting images of lives for auction constructed by a community.


Paying close attention to the architectural structure and the relationship with the image. Had a conversation with ivan about projection mapping. Bend the image to work with the facade. Have text falling or working with the structure in its presentation. Relates to something Wodiczko said about revelation or discovery for the audience. It’s an intervention, need to intervene on that level.

Interviewee #1

Abby on Student Debt

Interviewee #2

Bridget on Student Debt

Improvements Regarding Text Messaging

Question and number needs pause throughout the piece. Need a more fluid transition to people’s responses in the rotation.  Also text for people’s responses is very cold and in a static font that needs to come more alive, probably in relation to the architecture as noted above. Or, the image displaying people’s responses needs to be rethought altogether. At the moment, it is cold and less poetic, looks more like a database. We need to think about displaying peoples responses in a warm, poetic and human way that relates to the topic and the architecture. We might think of displaying the question in between these responses to ensure that audiences understand what the statements refer to.

Categories: Reflective Posts


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