Installation views at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA (March, 1996). Mixed media, electronics, sound (dimensions variable)

Playing themes of free will and self-determination against notions of perpetual containment and loss of control, Parabolica articulates an individual presence cycling endlessly in a larger unknown. In it, a model train car with a speaker attached to it broadcasts a variety of sounds as it circulates around a track. The single track comprises a closed loop, with one part of the loop splitting into an elaborate switching matrix of many tracks that eventually feed back onto the single track. The switch settings in the matrix are changed randomly each time the car circles the track such that the its trajectory is different each time it passes through the matrix. Over time the car takes the center routes more often, thus describing with its motion the statistical form known as the bell curve. The sounds heard come from a variety of sources and refer to authority, forces of nature, personal presence, and social context. The title, Parabolica, refers both to the shape of the statistical curve it describes and to the final turn on the Monza autodrome in Italy. A difficult and high-speed curve, it is the one turn that must be made perfectly in order to cross the finish line first.