I became an advocate for historic preservation because my art involved something that in the future would involve preservation and preservation seemed to be dismissed as a priority of the community.
My earliest effort, my 1990 weekly newspaper serialization of local history, simply tried to shine a light on that avoidance. My purpose at that time was a self serving statement that the ignoring of the development potential of my technology ran counter to the history of this community. I was of the opinion that my local manufacturing concept aroused a resentment embedded in a more current unreflective average profile.
In 2002 I embarked upon my Great Knot project which I conceived as an unavoidable statement about what was being avoided: the responsibilities of history.
History can only be interpreted as the community's identity if representatives of it are preserved. Just before I arrived here in 1969 everything identifiable with the most historically important events had gone through a period in which they were so demeaned they had been wantonly demolished. After this was gone a pedestrian identity evolved borrowed from thousands of rural roadside commercial settings across America. This was all a reactionary response to the Thruway and large Corporate employers doubling the population after mid century, creating its satellite community character.
The impact of this period was so much a part of the psyche that when I was asked to help draft a preservation ordinance in late 2003 any evidence that would support preservation policy was regarded as privileged information. It was not until a decade later that the first decade of village minutes were allowed to be available for research.
I have tackled this as a social phenomenon and documented it as the environment of my art. The cultural environment of my art is a roadside workplace that historically represents the mid nineteenth century in both the road's use and in the bluestone quarry that is the site of the art work. The document presented here was created in 2005 to demonstrate the way I am fulfilling the broader statement that the site-specific character of this artwork involves the complete cultural environment.
The skill of the artist has always been judged by the social impact delivered within the work that has been crafted. What I'm crafting in the Great Knot project is something that continues as a reminder of the larger environment far into the future. It is a period piece in that this time right now, as the artist works, is recorded along with the minutia of the reactions to the art and the artist, as an historical performance piece. The entire community is part of this piece and what is done to jeopardize or preserve what this piece will reference in the future is part of the concept and the content of the art.
Art is universal. This presentation on the Internet creates that level of universal awareness. It advocates for that awareness now and in the future and the existence of the Great Knot as a physical phenomenon with a place and cultural purpose beckons interest in this concept now and into the far, far future.
This "weblet" introduces this work within a broader series of web products that distribute a portfolio of publications I'm creating to interprete the history of Saugerties.This is a web production of Michael Sullivan Smith. It's distributed free of commercial or government platforms from the Cloud. If you find it informative you may be a patron by visiting the Patreon.com link on this introduction page. There you will find a list of interesting creations such as this to add to your electronic collection.
The file burns a lot of bandwidth every time it is pulled down from the cloud. Patrons help me pay for this service so that you can save this file from the cloud into your computer. The PDF from this streaming file can be downloaded to your computer. The only good thing to come out of commercial dominance of the Internet is the power it needed in your personal computer to pull off this dominance. Please use what you have and save energy. Save the PDF to your computer if you're going to study this file.
The Great Knot, April 27, 2011
Michael Sullivan Smith, 2015
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