A Show of Hands is a participatory public artwork that explores American Sign Language (ASL) as a medium through which to examine the architecture of free speech and public space and the presence/absence of the body in the built environment.
Members of the public are invited to submit messages that they would like to share with their city, especially messages that advocate positive behaviors, whether active or reflective. These messages are translated into sign language and recorded on video. The videos show only the hands and arms of the signer, in HD black and white. The videos are displayed on the sides of buildings, positioned so that each arm appears to emerge from a different window, as if they belong to huge beings that inhabit the buildings, reaching out to each other (sometimes playfully, sometimes with longing) and sending out a slow, silent message to the streets, almost as if conducting the city like an orchestra, or caressing the buildings that they are displayed on.
Members of the public can submit messages via email, or in person at a temporary kiosk at the site where the video is being displayed, where it is possible to interact with ASL professionals who can teach you how to ‘sign’ your message in ASL.
At a time where digital displays are proliferating throughout our cities, A Show of Hands inverts the identity of the urban display: instead of being over-stimulating, our signs are gentle; instead of broadcasting information, our signs subtly withhold it.
To take part in this project, please visit the Participate page.