I go through the same preparations but now I tend to focus on the type ofÂ object that seems possible to construct. The Windshield Wiper for Grant Park is a more architectural shape, for example, than theÂ Teddy Bear. This is also true of the Clothespin.
As an example of the genesis of one monument, would you describe how theÂ Windshield Wiper evolved?
The Wiper was partly suggested by the tall tapering shape of the HancockÂ building. If you stand in Grant Park near the Buckingham Fountain where theÂ Wiper is sited and look at the Hancock building, itÊ¼s as if youÊ¼re seeing one longÂ rectangle in perspective, which is the effect the Wiper itself would have. HereÊ¼sÂ an example of the coming together of choice of objects with a technologyÂ needed to realize it. Another source is: the Wiper defines the structure ofÂ Chicago because itÊ¼s located on the Congress Expressway axis, which alsoÂ happens to be the axis of Daniel BurnhamÊ¼s symmetrical plan for the city. LookÂ at a map of Chicago and youÊ¼ll see that the Wiper stands at the center: if youÂ draw a compass line, it defines a semi-circular arcâ€”the lake cuts off the circle.
CARROLL: But why a windshield wiper?
Chicago is a city of the meeting of water and landâ€”a whole circle of the compassÂ would be half water and half land. A windshield wiper occupies a place whereÂ water and â€œdry landâ€ meet. In Chicago, one is always looking at the wet lakeÂ from a dry spot. And there is BurnhamÊ¼s concept of a facade, a window. Then thereÊ¼s the sepulchral feeling I get about Chicago, perhaps because itÊ¼s soÂ perpendicularâ€”like tombstones. Chicago has a strange metaphysical elegance ofÂ death about it. I wanted a symbol of that: so the Grim Reaper became the GiantÂ Wiperâ€”a verbal play. The Wiper is as cruel as death because it comes down intoÂ the water where kids are playing. Much like the Bowling Balls careening alongÂ Park Avenue, the Wiper can kill kids if they donÊ¼t learn how to get out of theÂ way. Chicago seems to raise its children that way: everybodyÊ¼s out to get rid ofÂ the other person in this terribly competitive city.
What would you say to the argument of some city booster whoÊ¼d claim thatÂ a monument of a windshield wiper hardly captures Chicago as powerful, vital,Â masculine builderâ€”â€city of the broad shoulders,â€ as Sandburg wrote? Or if theÂ booster said: â€œAre you suggesting that we wipe or clean up the city, huh?â€
The objections would be a simple-minded explanation of what the Wiper is allÂ about: my intentions are more poetic. For example, the Wiper also makes theÂ sky tangible in that it treats the sky as if it were glass. Making the intangibleÂ tangible has always been one of my fascinations. But â€œwipe outâ€ is slang forÂ kill, isnÊ¼t it?Â
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