The emptiness of vacant lots was always attractive to me because they contradict the maintenance and social control of urban environments. The abandoned buildings were evocative of things that the world had temporarily left behind and would eventually regenerate to be active and functional again.
I started to think about how these spaces were usually avoided because of their dysfunction and anonymity. The unidentified space had no function in the social environment. My work led me to become more aware of how the built environment is a highly manipulated preconceived and controlled arena of the different energies of public and private ownership.
In my installation, The Last Common Denominator I wanted to spatially re-present the empty lot and the objects commonly found in them, as well as portray the use of empty lots as sites for billboards.
The title is a play on the term, the lowest common denominator, signifying the commodity object and how it is possibly the last common denominator of our relationships. In a capitalist world economy, people ever increasingly relate to each other through their possessions.
The installation was made of 12, 20" square wooden boxes, 4" deep. They were distributed on the ground in an arbitrary grid pattern with enough room to walk in between the photographs, which were close to life size. I utilized the grid in this installation as a reference to the "stringing" of a site in an archaeological dig. The boxes resembled the frames archaeologists use to sift out from the ground the precious artifacts of history.
The boxes in this installation implied that the objects were valuable contemporary artifacts, bur in reality the artifacts were merely trash, invaluable to us. The other half of the installation was a 250lb aluminum sheet metal billboard, mounted on a homemade stand that put it close to the ground. I painted it, a shade of Afternoon Azure Blue, to be symbolic of an abstract effacement of the cosmetic perfection of advertising.
The viewer was to be overwhelmed by the 6' x 12' foot blue field as a projection of an ideal, this cosmetic blue was contradicted by the objects at the viewers’ feet. The photographs of the objects within the empty lot were evidence of the lack of maintenance over that space. The pools of water, weeds, dried mud, unused construction materials, a Nike shoe, a children's hyper orange bat, a dead cat, beer bottles, car parts and various other fragments of trash, were objects which could easily be consumptive products (tennis shoes, children's toys, liquor, automobiles, clothes), ideas of happy domesticity (the house cat), real estate (condominiums, tract housing, town homes) and other indicators of societal value, which could be projected onto the billboard as advertisements. The Last Common Denominator, has provided a basis for my work.