powder-coated steel; gold leafed bronze (Birds)
Polytrauma & Blind Rehabilitation Center, Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA


Field Guide

In a place of healing we expect care, hope for connection, and long for comfort.

Diversion can help, too, and a sense of enlightened diversion is at the heart of Field Guide.

An epic latticework screen stands outside the entrance to the VA’s Polytrauma & Blind Rehabilitation Center. While from a distance, one’s first impression is of a vast linear abstraction, graphic clues soon give way to recognition of overlapping plant and animal forms.

This giant puzzle conflates twenty-two renderings of species indigenous to Northern California, and while no two of them share a common scale, they may share a curving line or graphic motif.

Perched within the screen are dozens of gold birds, which in their three-dimensionality and uniform scale offer a counterpoint to the linear framework.

The same composition is replicated inside, curved into a cylinder suspended over the waiting area, an optical complication that further challenges viewers in decoding the piece.

Both the screen and the cylinder are decipherable to those with 20/200 vision, a threshold commonly used in defining legal blindness.

A third component, incorporating a tactile interface, is for those totally without sight and their caregivers.

At once serious and sly, sophisticated and innocent, Field Guide aims to promote contemplation on several levels, offering a challenge in which viewers can find aesthetic engagement, intellectual stimulation, and a renewed connection to Nature.

Field Guide was fabricated by Heavy Industries, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.