Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport
Atlanta, Georgia, 2004
The project for Gates E-1 and E-2 in the International Terminal
consists of approximately fourteen thousand one-of-a-kind business
cards arranged as if on an enormous bulletin board. The cards will
be placed up against one another on the wall in a continuous band
120 feet long and 5 feet high. The more typical white and off-white
cards will serve as the background and the rarer colored cards will
be arranged to spell out the following quotation from Roman poet
Sextus Propertius: "Let each man pass his days in that endeavor
wherein his gift is greatest." Taken together, the quotation
and the materials of which it is constructed are intended to emphasize
the importance of discovering one’s true calling in life.
The cards will be permanently attached to 5' x 4' wooden panels,
but will be mounted in such a way as to appear seamless. Panels
of abutted glass will cover and protect the work.
I find the business card to be evocative on many different levels.
Reflected in them are the accomplishments and aspirations of those
they represent. In them one can find the facts of our existence:
name, occupation, title, address, phone-fax-e-mail, nickname, motto,
logo, mission statement, etc. In them one can read the details of
our busy lives--things bought and sold, services rendered, claims
and guarantees made. And in their color, texture, type style and
layout one can find even a record of our far-ranging aesthetic sensibilities.
The endless combinations of information and design result in the
seemingly impossible. Like fingerprints, no two business cards are
alike. Given the same standard format, each card somehow becomes
a unique, pocket-sized self-portrait. Gathered together, they form
a remarkable mosaic of human enterprise as well as an interesting
archive of a particular time and place.
Locating such a project in one of the passenger holding areas of
a busy international airport seems especially fitting. Before each
flight, a new sampling of occupations and lifestyles will gather
by chance in a room to wait. Plumbers and professors, pipe fitters
and piano tuners, poets, priests, and politicians will pass through
in a constant parade of infinite variety. As the parade pauses momentarily
in this space, each group of travelers will become, in a sense,
a bodily reflection of the artwork, and vice versa.
I see the project as not only a decorative work, but also as an
engine for thought and perhaps even inspiration. I believe that
the work functions on many different levels and offers something
for everyone who might experience it. On a very practical level,
the project provides passengers with something to do while they
are waiting. With earlier business card works, I have watched as
viewers spent long periods of time absorbing the wealth of information
contained in the cards. Additional interactive participation will
be encouraged by placing a receptacle in the waiting area inviting
airport patrons to deposit their own business cards. These contributions
will be added to my growing inventory of more than twenty-five thousand
business cards and be used in future projects.