“Waiting For A Break” is a public art piece commissioned by LAND Studio for Public Square, in Cleveland, Ohio. LCD panels will be installed in public bus shelters to display live feeds of Lake Erie’s winter ice from January to May 2018. Real-time shots of the icy horizon will be transmitted to the monitors by multiple cameras installed on lighthouses around the perimeter of the lake. The video feed will continue until the ice has broken and melted in the spring, so that the images at the end of the piece will be much different than the images at the beginning; this is a slowly evolving, living piece.
The real-time entropy of the ice and the lake is at the heart of this piece. For the first few months of the installation, images on the screen will primarily consist of bleak shots of silvery ice and sky, the grey days of the winter that Clevelanders know so well. Although the shots will not move, variations in the frame will always be happening: birds will fly across the screen, fisherman may appear on the ice, clouds will move overhead. Commuters who frequent the bus stop will develop a relationship with the imagery, and will notice environmental shifts as time goes by; the days will get longer, the birds will become more frequent, the skies will shift from grey to blue. But the climax of the piece occurs in March or April, when the event we’ve all been waiting for finally occurs: the ice will break. After the long Cleveland winter, witnessing the majestic ice thaw is something to be celebrated––it is the break we’ve collectively been waiting for.
The irony, however, is that although we are anxious for the ice to thaw, a solid ice cover is an indicator of a healthy climate and lake. The White House has proposed a 97% cut to the EPA funding that supports the Great Lakes Protection Act, slashing legislation that restores the world’s largest system of fresh water. It a critical moment to put Cleveland’s great natural resource, Lake Erie, front and center.