Below was the written proposal submitted in 2007. Funding was not awarded.
"You are here" Ice Shanty
The proposed art shanty will be a collaborative work by Minneapolis sculptor, Mel Benkert and Twin Cities photographer, Lawrence Raymond. We were drawn to the challenge of combining polar mediums [sculpture and photography], while respecting and utilizing Medicine Lake as an installation site, taking into consideration the natural properties of the lake and the transient, ice-fishing population. The proposed project seeks to create an interactive environment, encouraging participants to engage in the process of a time-based sculpture. The shanty will reflect on cause and effect and relies essentially on active participation for its sustainability.
Each wall of the shanty (four total) will contain a large, circular, wooden unit and adjacent lever. Each unit encases three colorful photographs of intersecting, urban landscapes and one natural “window” to the exterior landscape. With each pump of the lever, the participant can view another photograph. Units can simultaneously be viewed and levers pumped to rotate the frames.
One area of the shanty will house a standard swing, made of ice, attached to the ceiling two parallel chains. The casted ice “seat” will reside on a flat, 2 inch strip of bendable sheet metal. Build-up of ice, both underneath the swing and on the surface, will be expected, as will thawing and refreezing of the “seat”. (At this time, it is undecided whether to install a boundary around the swing to prevent possible destruction of the object).
Representing a pendulum of sorts, the precarious structure will be changing per the weather patterns and viewers participation. As viewers pump the levers on the walls to view the urban landscapes, they simultaneously “pump” water to the swing. Four small holes will be drilled through the ice with four plastic tubes trailing from the swing to each unit and each hole. When the lever is pumped, a suctioning device (unseen by viewers) transfers water from lake to the chains. A small amount of water then slides down the chains, freezing and building up. Eventually, water will slide down the chains to the cast ice, where it will build up and/or collect in a puddle, which will freeze and become thicker with each day and pump of the levers. The viewer becomes an unknowing participant, eventually shifting the pendulum and forcing the dynamic object to become static.
Our art shanty will be no larger than 14 feet by 14 feet by 14 feet. The frame of the shanty will be angle iron and the exterior will be made of recycled wood and plastic, creating a wind and weather barrier. The roof will be angled to prevent a buildup of snow and ice (although this has yet to be tested in a mock environment). The primary interior materials and structures will be made from wood, Lexan (or comparable acrylic material), chain, water/ice, plastic tubing, and steel. The shanty will be built in modular components in a studio setting and transported to the site for assembly. The base of the structure will be built on skis. We will be taking extra precautionary measures in test environments to be certain that our choice of materials are all compatible with the harsh, winter environment, and that items are incapable of becoming dislodged from the shanty or otherwise harmful to the lake.
Throughout the duration of the exhibit, one artist will be present 2-3 times per week, in the evenings and partial days on the weekend, to inspect the structure and the sculpture’s progress. Additionally, we intend to pre-arrange with friends, family, colleagues, and those who need a dose of positive karma, to assist us in the considerable, albeit invigorating, procedure of installing and de-installing the shanty.