Logo for America – Alfredo Jaar
The representation of geography and the intricacies of global relations influence Alfredo Jaar’s work as an artist. In the Project „A Logo for America“ this led to critical investigations of cartography. „A Logo for America“ was an explicit demonstration of the significanca of the images and language of geography – its representation and articulation.
The Artist, born in Santiago de Chile, lives and works in New York, was one of thirty artists invited in 1987 to produce a 45sec. Computer animation/intervention on the Spectacolor lightboard in the heart of Times Square. For a month, his designed animation was featured every six minutes surrounded by private advertising and promotional campaigns for the city. Jaar’s animation began with a solid image of the United States of America. In the next frame it was transformed into spare outline. Next, „THIS IS NOT AMERICA“ was inscribed across the silhouette of the 48 states. Replaced by a red, white and blue flag of the USA. Finally the flag was drained of color and imprinted with „THIS IS NOT AMERICA’S FLAG“. Then, a brightly illuminated „AMERICA“ stood alone. The center letter (R) slowly tranformed to a hemispheric image of Canada, the USA, Central America, and South America. As letters dissolved and reappeared, a complete – and accurate – represantation of the American continent coalesced. In a wild conclusion, the image was doubled, twisted, upended, and superimposed over the word „AMERICA“.
Alfredo Jaar used this prominant site to deliver a clear message about identity and language. Using a selective taxonomy of communicative systems – maps, flags, and words – he reminded viewers of the propaganda that perpetuates power. Amidst the gaudy glitz of Times Square, Jaar seized the corporate world of promotion to introduce another reality.