Commissioned Works

Scoreboard

Ethan Cohen

Ethan Cohen

Employing the scoreboard for its role as a trope of romanticized America and the compact fluorescent light bulb as an icon of environmental sustainability, this installation by Ethan Cohen '13 challenges viewers to decide whether or not the soul of an object can be retained in energy efficient form. In reality, energy efficient scoreboards, such as the one on Wesleyan's Andrus Field, use LED digital screens. The presented “sustainable model” is therefore a piece of science fiction that retains its original shell but utilizes a different light bulb type. The “science fiction” representation is more transparently sustainable than a digital LED scoreboard because of the instant association between the spiral shape of a fluorescent energy efficient bulb and environmental sustainability. There is no consensus on the issue of transparency in sustainability. Should sustainable techniques and technologies be implanted behind the scenes, allowing for products to retain its former shell, or should they bring with them a new lexicon of design and imagery, advertising their own environmental friendliness? The question is not whether a commitment to Americana aesthetics would rule out the pursuit of sustainability, for that would be to oppose progress, a classic American ideal in itself. Rather, the question is whether to flaunt new practices or hide them behind the comfort of the familiar. Scoreboard was commissioned by the Center For the Arts Feet to the Fire Initiative to be installed in the Science Library during Wesleyan’s Earth Week Celebration – Saturday, April 14 through Sunday, April 22, 2012.

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