An interview with Joseph Baldwin, New Media Artist
HR – Describe your inspiration for the Mobile Garden?
J – The mobile garden started out as a project for a graduate school interdisciplinary seminar “how to design a sustainable future”. I knew I wanted to tackle transportation and when thinking about transportation I thought about freight trains, more specifically the small town railroad crossings where you can expect to sit parked watching a train go by and catch glimpses of shipments of cars, livestock, fuel, etc — and though graffiti is a strong contender I couldn’t think of any situation where aesthetics or art had been pulled around. Then I started thinking about the installation of a garden, which evolved into a native plant garden on the CTA grid – primarily because it was a responsible choice of medium, both being closed loops that don’t unnaturally extend outside of the region. Once the project was finished I wanted to really see it happen. Christo & Jean Claude have always been a big inspiration, so mentally I knew I was good for a large time consuming project that would span years.
HR – Have you heard of similar projects in other communities?
J – The closest cousins this project has are the Highline , Truck Farm , and the Waterpod, all in NYC — and Chicago’s Art on Track .I know there is a lost more out there, but these were the big three that I came across over the last few years that I’ve reached out to for support and brainstorming.
HR – How would you rate or describe the CTA’s current aesthetic?
J – A hybrid of utilitarianism and capitalism.
HR – What advice would you give for someone trying to beautify their transit experience?
J – It really depends on the definitions of those terms. Beautification is very subjective. I really think the way the CTA handles their aesthetics is the right way to go, if there weren’t a bunch of bureaucratic hurdles to jump then anyone could just walk in makes changes to the transit experience without concern to the cost or safety of the public and the rail infrastructure. I suppose a better answer would be to first, support public transit or be an informed citizen. If you’re not a stockholder you can’t expect to vote at the meetings with much weight behind your voice.
HR – What song or songs would you like played at your funeral?
J – I don’t really have a firm opinion on funerals, or how to handle my remains. In relation to the interview juxtaposed to this question I’d say: Train in Vain (The Clash), Nothing but Flowers (Talking Heads), Fitzcarraldo (The Frames), Gathering Storm (GSYBE), Wasting My Air (Mars Volta), Harmony Joy Bus Ride (Wesley Willis), and maybe a Karaoke element where people have to fill out their requests in triplicate and have insurance in case their singing hurts any ears or feelings.