Soliphore Tower is an ongoing sculpture and installation project begun on Governor's Island as part of the Governor's Island Art Fair 2018.
This project consists of three flag semaphore-inspired 15ft tall, 4ft wide and 4ft long wooden towers adorned with a series of brightly colored nylon flags. The three towers were spread out in a straight line at least 50ft apart, and the flags on each tower were adjustable so that the movement of their relative positions would mimic semaphore messaging. Each tower was composed of a combination of wooden pressure-treated 2x4s, plywood, steel rods, metal roller chain and sprockets, wire rope, and other mechanical components. The flags were made of weather-proof nylon.
At the front of each tower there was a set of two cranks at waist height that allow the visitors to alter the rotational position of the main pair of large nylon flags. The mechanisms for controlling the flags include one pair of steel sprockets and roller chain, and a pair of plastic pulleys connected by a coated metal rope which allowed both flags to rotate around the same axis.
The towers on each end faced towards the tower in the middle, so that when a visitor went to send a message from one of the two towers on the end (i.e., towers One or Three), they were unable to see the towers behind them. The point of this spatial positioning was to challenge the visitor's ability to both send and receive a message at the same time, forcing the visitor to make a choice knowing that there may be some information lost.
The two end towers (i.e., towers One and Three) had a printed sign encased in plastic to explain the basic usage of flag semaphore along with a visual guide to display the flag positions for sending messages. Meanwhile, the middle tower (tower Two) functions as a relay tower within this system. As such, tower Two will have a printed sign explaining the basics for how to use the hand cranks in order to change the position of the flags, but won't include a visual guide decoding the meaning of the flag positions. The point of this is to remove the agency from a visitor when they're standing in front of this relay tower and force them merely into mimicking those surrounding them.
A critical element of this project is the recreation of signal clarity and obfuscation. While brightly colored flags on each tower move around a central axis to relay messages across a 50ft line on Governor's Island, each tower will also include six additional flags, in this case blue white and red, that are attached to stationary rods. The purpose of these additional stationary flags was to make it more visually difficult for visitors to read the messages that each tower sends across this short distance.