Jenny Holzer: For Saam
With an extensive portfolio of Time Based Media and Tech Art, Parallel Development was the ideal candidate for the re-fabrication of Jenny Holzer’s work, For Saam.
The 26’ sculpture stands in Smithsonian’s Lincoln Gallery, displaying Holzer’s famous truisms. After a decade of regular wear and tear (not to mention a couple of lightning strikes!!), the technology of the piece was obsolete.
Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum
With media preservation as the end goal, Parallel’s meticulous approach was geared towards staying as authentic to Holzer’s original sculpture as possible. Coordinating with the artist, her studio, and the museum staff, we were able to produce an end product that stayed true to the original artwork aesthetic and intention.
Accomplishing such a task wasn’t without its challenges. To get all components working together we had to reverse engineer the data bit-stream of the original piece(DOS laptop) to generate non-existent video files from 1s and 0s, thereby, preserving the original content in a modern video format. We then rewrote portions of our code to accommodate very high contrast video content with no artifacts, staying true to the aesthetic.
The piece (shown above) is composed of 120 strands of LED Printed Circuit Boards; in the original sculpture the strands were made up of individual PCBs that were soldered to one another, making it very difficult to repair and maintain the piece. The soldered joints made it so that in order to troubleshoot or fix any part the entire strand would need to be taken down from the piece. We developed a PCB splice connector that serves both a mechanical and electrical purpose, allowing for the removal of individual boards and resulting in easier serviceability of the piece.
Once we had finalized our design phase, Parallel went to work on creating a mock-up in our shop. Our mock-ups help cement our installation process, giving us time to troubleshoot and maximize efficiency. Jenny Holzer’s monumental, For Saam, was returned to SAAM in February, 2018.