(photo courtesy Tre Borden)

Video Art Installation Coming to Downtown Sacramento

‘Beacon’ aims to light up K Street and foster dialogue

Back Web Only Mar 13, 2017 By Robin Epley

Inspired by current politics and an increased focus on California and its state capital, two Sacramentans are looking to instigate dialogue around a new project coming to downtown.

The interactive, immersive projection, called Beacon, will run from mid-April to mid-July at the empty 930 K Street building, says producer and placemaker Tre Borden, who is running the project with local filmmaker, artist and Beacon curator, Jessa Ciel.

Projections will change weekly and themes will include the water crisis, undocumented immigration, crises of faith, consent and more, concluding with a week simply themed “America,” Ciel says. “It will project video, text and photography through the glass windows of the building.” The projection aspect invites the public to participate without necessarily entering the building, Borden says. He and Ciel say they want to inspire passersby to more deeply reflect on divisive issues that often tend to elicit a knee-jerk reaction regardless of ideology. “A beacon is a source of light, a warning or a way to light up things,” Borden says of the inspiration for the name. “We’re trying to illuminate vulnerable people and hidden perspectives.”

Ciel says they hope the installation will offer alternative viewpoints for viewers of the installation, and are soliciting not just local artists but anyone, internationally, who has a story to tell. (Artists and interested parties can visit their website at beaconsacramento.com for more information.) Beacon will be accepting submissions through April 3, Ciel says.

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“It was essential to the concept [that it was] blocks from the capitol,” Borden says. The building at 930 K Street that will host the projections is owned by local company Mohanna Development, Borden says. The building is currently empty, but there is a plan to develop it in the near future. Ciel and Borden also plan to ask policymakers to hold informal meetings outside the installation. The installation will run for about 10 hours a day, including two hours in the afternoon during K Street’s busiest pedestrian hours and then again from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly.

The California Endowment has donated money for the project, and Borden says he and Ciel are also working with Hacker Lab creators to network the “highly-technically advanced installation.” Local company Cisco is also donating $10,000 of equipment, and will assist in tracking the amount of foot traffic past the project every night. There is also a plan for viewers to be able to interact with the piece, though it is not finalized, Borden says.

Daniel Zingale, a senior vice president with the California Endowment says the donation amount is not yet settled, but they’re going to donate “tens of thousands” toward the project, which aligns with many of the Endowment’s values. “We’re always looking for creative ways to lift the voices of ordinary Sacramentans in a way that comes to the attention of policymakers,” Zingale says. “Those dollars will be aimed at identifying and amplifying the stories and voices and images of some of the Sacramentans who are left out of the conversation.” Zingale says the foundation will be making a “significant investment” in the project.

“We’re really excited to partner with other organizations,” Ciel says. “Organizations that are community-focused and engaged.” Each week will include a call to action, she says, so that people who come to see the installation won’t just “go home and forget about it.” Ciel says she hopes people will engage and remember.

“This puts Sacramento on the map as a center of innovation,” Borden says. “It really establishes Sacramento as a place that has a culture of engagement and interest in a multicultural future.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify ownership of the building at 930 K St.