Giants Are Sleeping

Amanda Gutiérrez

Giants Are Sleeping aims to reflect the identity, transformation, and ownership of one Chicago electrical substation. Exploring the relationship between human memory and architecture, the installation pairs an interview with Kenneth Corrigan, a bookseller who inhabited the abandoned electrical substation in 1984, with a charcoal animation that uses substation photo archives as its main reference. Drawing techniques are the vehicle to convey symbolic connections that link the historical aspects of these buildings, while the radio becomes the narrative’s voice over.

Electrical substations can be seen as living organisms now fossilized by new technologies. Nevertheless, historically they represented a step forward in modernity’s achievement of energy equality for working class citizens. Their development and configuration generated questions concerning the role that electric light and power could have in transforming society. These substations became a familiar landmark in the neighborhood, though hidden and deceptive, not inhabited by humans.

Nowadays, these electrical substations function as shells that hide and protect the complex mechanisms that generate and transmit the grid. These locations are turning into historical artifacts, lost in time and the urban network. Neutral and almost invisible, these buildings replaced neighborhood electric plants as the city’s primary architectonic construction that controlled the distribution of electric power to consumers.

Using electricity as a generative medium, the Comfort Station building will serve as the space to frame architecture’s capabilities of sheltering and creating habitable structures. -Reprinted from Radius.

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