Alternative Instruments, an installation by Clinical Professor Sam Jacob, is now on display as part of the third edition of Exhibit Columbus, an exhibition and symposium series based in Columbus, Indiana. The installation is located along a six-block stretch of Washington Street and incorporates design elements and symbols referencing Thomas More’s Utopia, among other sources. Jacob developed the installation as a recipient of the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize.
From the Exhibit Columbus website:
Alternative Instruments responds to Columbus as a site, place, a history, but also a fiction. Suggesting how places and ideas are interconnected, the Washington Street installations draw parallels between Columbus’ midcentury architecture, European Modernism, and utopian impulses of early American Settlements.
Thomas More coined the term “utopia” in his 1516 novel. A story of a New World island modeled on accounts of European voyages, More’s imaginary “good place” is intertwined with expansionism and colonialism.
Alternative Instruments uses civic design to create new narratives that point towards the future—referencing Americana roadside signs, weathervanes, and measuring chains used by the British to claim territory. Quilts recall vernacular craft, with phrases from Utopia and written in More’s fictional language.
The installation is part of the larger Exhibit Columbus exhibition, New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What Is the Future of the Middle City?, curated by Iker Gil and Mimi Zieger. For more information and to watch a video of Jacob presenting the installation proposal, visit the Exhibit Columbus website.