After three years of construction, the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project is nearly complete. At a public dedication, 9 to 10 a.m, Friday, Nov. 16, SODO by Santa Monica, Calif.-artist team merge conceptual design (Claudia Reisenberger and Franka Diehnelt) will be unveiled, along with new sidewalks and landscaping in the lower roadway reconstruction. The dedication will be at under the Viaduct a bit east of First Avenue South.
SODO is a vast visual narrative that catalogues more than 200 years of SoDo’s history. Created in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the artwork consists of stenciled and barcode designs painted on the concrete columns that hold up the existing and new portions of the Spokane Street Viaduct between Sixth Avenue South and East Marginal Way South. Nine different color and image schemes create separate zones that recollect the natural and cultural history of the area, the industries that flourished there, and wildlife that inhabited the site. In total, more than 500 column faces were painted.
As a way to distinguish and identify each theme within the artwork, the artists created their own unique barcodes encrypted with the name of each field (e.g., Another Man’s Treasure) for the project. The striped barcodes on the columns (viewed from westbound South Spokane Street) visually play with the corridor’s perspective beneath the viaduct and line up to create a whole barcode pattern when viewed from specific points along the roadway. The nine themes in SODO include (east to west): Another Man’s Treasure, Forest of Stilts, Duck-Duck-Goose, Heavy Metal, Moved Mountain, Slowheel, Cuts and Hides and Liquid Land.
In the last 200 years SoDo has experienced a dramatic transformation from tidal flats to industrial area to a center of warehousing, packaging and distribution of goods.
In our artwork we are using the over-arching image of barcodes to “label” the many layers that constitute SoDo’s history. The use of barcodes points to SoDo’s present reality, while the information encoded in the barcodes refers to a much deeper identity hidden beneath the surface: rather than just naming a product, the encoded words evoke stories/history related to the site.
Graphically, the barcodes serve as the medium to weave together the several layers of the site’s identity into one narrative. In addition to the barcodes, each of the stories is represented in an image/product, condensed into a simple icon. These icons are used to create patterns that visually interact with the barcodes. A simple text layer is added to loosely hint at the stories behind the patterns.
The artwork was commissioned with SDOT 1% for Art funds and administered by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.
Images: Photos by Spike Mafford.