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Feb 8, 2015

The Technological Sublime

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
I do lead a charmed life! Recently I got a personal 2-hour tour of the new $6 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge by its Project Manager, Ken Terpstra. I'm amazed at how beautiful and "green" the project is from top to bottom. It was very difficult for him to get engineers and bureaucrats not only to work together but to approach the project as humans instead of as efficient machines. Working like the conductor of an orchestra, he finessed them into working not to simply wrack up another job, but to work to glorify public space on the behalf of real people. For instance he said simply getting the signs painted white was a huge campaign because no one had ever done that before! (Outdoor signage is always galvanized gray). Ken reviewed every aspect of the 2-mile east bridge and approaches, down to the tiniest detail. At one point we squatted down on the pedestrian path and he pointed to the welds. He had even sent the architect to China to review different options for welds to use the most beautiful of several options (who knew- and I'm a welder!!) The result is a bridge that feels great, even though the casual visitor is totally unaware of the tiniest attention to esthetic detail; truly stunning!

The thing that struck me the most is his advocacy for the "technological sublime", that aspect of human constructions that awes and lifts us through our body awareness. I often feel this myself, like when encountering a hand-made rather than machine-made object or building (that sports the variations of the human hand, rather than the dead straight lines of mere efficiency). He convinced me that building a purely functional project is MORE not less expensive than a beautiful project, because a beautiful project prevents many of the objections that engender expensive delays. I'm overjoyed to hear a respected manager of his stature advocating such a beauty-centered attitude! Right direction, more, I say!

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.