Here at CMOA we’re gearing up for a new exhibition, Antoine Catala: Distant Feel, one of the more challenging yet rewarding shows to come through our Forum Gallery. Catala is interested in how images provoke feelings, notably empathy. But, he asks, how should we express empathy online, to strangers? Now that we’re able to see thousands of images per day through Internet-connected devices, what are the emotional ramifications?
It’s a potentially limitless line of inquiry. It’s also difficult to communicate. “So,” several of us thought, “what if we plan some sort of live demonstration for the whole city of Pittsburgh?”
The beacon atop Gulf Tower came to mind immediately. Six stories tall, and pyramid-shaped, the Art Deco-inspired structure has had one lighting scheme or another since it first opened in 1932. In 2012, a new set of LED bulbs enabled the lighting to change drastically, and its weather program feeds directly from KDKA through an Internet connection. We could do something similar, except around emotional responses to images. It seemed perfect. Hence the Gulf Tower Project was born.