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Peter Wegner's never-ending 'Monument to Change as It Changes'

May 21, 2011 |  6:30 am

Some artworks fire up in a flash. Others take a bit longer to enter the world. By Peter Wegner’s accounting, the most ambitious of a suite of artworks he just completed for Stanford’s new Graduate School of Business campus was simmering for about two decades.

“Monument to Change as It Changes," shown above, is a large grid of color that, as the title suggests, is perpetually in flux. It is not static for even a second. At one moment, the whole “screen” floods with orange or blue; at another it disintegrates into a field of competing hues. For each small rectangle making up this large grid can change color with a quick flipping motion, the same way letters change on an old-fashioned train station departure and arrival board.

The artist says he first had the idea of using this flip-digit technology in an artwork when he was 25, standing on a train platform in Berlin with his wife. He found himself transfixed by the mechanical motion of the train signage “like any 3-year-old would be.”

He was also fascinated by the appearance of language in flux, as fragments of letters appeared and disappeared. “For me, it felt like meaning or sense was assembling and disassembling itself. Language was prying itself apart and putting itself together while you're standing there.” And then at a certain point, he says, the fragments “will coalesce into something recognizable.

“That really resonated with me. I go through life that way. There are moments where meaning seems really elusive and inscrutable and then momentarily falls into place.”

Click here for the full Arts&Books feature on Wegner's "monuments to the future" at Stanford, with a video interview showing the artworks in action.


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--Jori Finkel

Image: Peter Wegner sits in front of "Monument to Change as It Changes" at the Stanford Graduate School of Business's Knight Management Center. Photo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.