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Urbanauts

Sean Orlando and Matthew Passmore (Rebar)

Obscure patterns inscribed in concrete and brick; odd constellations of pipes and valves protrude from the sidewalk; anonymous buildings enclose power stations and waterfalls: the city is filled with obscure artifacts of infrastructure that puncture the urban surface or loom behind closed doors, tracing a leviathan system that undergirds modern life. Guided by imperatives of functionality and efficiency, the rational design of this system has – through accidents of history and innovations in technology – generated odd niches and vacuoles, rifts in the fabric of the city that beg explanation. What if these rifts are just the tip of the iceberg? What exotic terrain, underground and out of sight, do these artifacts map?

The core structures of the city also take another form: the soft structure of social codes and customary behaviors that guide our public behavior. Invisible and ubiquitous, these codes regulate how we inhabit the public realm: how we feel, how we act and how we evaluate the behavior of others. Like its physical counterpart, this “infrastructure” creates moments of ambiguity and possibility where the explicit and the hidden intersect.

To explore these fundamental physical and social structures of the city, deYoung Artist Fellows Sean Orlando and Rebar embark as Urbanauts. Through a series of urban expeditions, artifact collections, design reconstructions, artworks and interwoven conversations, Urbanauts maps an outline of the unseen mechanical and cultural systems that structure life in the built environment.

Urbanauts begins with an exploration of a range of potential sites that provide glimpses into hidden infrastructure at a variety of scales, including the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco and the broader Bay Area region. Over the course of the 18-month fellowship, these sites will be explored, examined, documented and discussed to inform a series of fabricated objects based on the aesthetics and function of hidden infrastructure.

About Sean Orlando

Sean Orlando is an installation artist and community organizer with an interest in collaborative and immersive large-scale sculptural installation projects. He is a co-founder of the Five Ton Crane Arts Group and principle artist at Engineered Artworks. Sean’s most recent collaborative group projects include the Steampunk Tree House, Raygun Gothic Rocketship and The Nautilus submarine art car.

About Matthew Passmore

Matthew Passmore is an artist, teacher, curator and founder/principal of Rebar, an art and design studio based in San Francisco. Best known as the inventors or PARK(ing) Day, Rebar creates projects that explore, innovate and improve the public realm. Recent exhibitions include the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, the Istanbul Design Biennial and Make it Louder 2012 Beijing. Matthew currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute.

About the de Young Artist Fellows Program2013-ArtistFellows-Logo1-02

In this program, the de Young invites multidisciplinary artists, to work onsite at the de Young and offsite, sharing their ideas, works in progress, collaborative projects, finished artworks and final productions with museum visitors and community members over the span of one year. This program is organized in partnership with highly regarded community arts organizations.

This project has been generously funded by the James Irvine Foundation’s Innovation Fund and the Institute of Museum and Library Services/Museums for America.