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Pinwheels Jason Fujikuni

Contents 7 The One-Liner 8 The Background 11 The Premise 18 Scenario 23 Expected Interactions 27 Works Cited

The One-Liner Pinwheels is a socially engaged art project memorializing the lives directly impacted by mass shootings in America by recontextualizing the events in a concentrated, urban environment.

The primordial installation was made in Providence, RI in December 2016.


The Background


Inspired by Mademoiselle Maurice’s use of origami for site-specific installations in urban environments, Pinwheels uses origami in a series of interactive installations to critique and comment on American mass shootings. The installations represent the lives lost and injured by mass shootings in America. Each piece of origami, shaped as a pinwheel, will represent one life. The inside of the pinwheel lists the name of the victim, their age, and the location of the shooting. The back of the pinwheel provides a website link to the online archive for the project. The pinwheel-shape and the color of

the origami will denote both a sense of playfulness/innocence, and of respect/memorial to the victims. The shape also mimics the form of an origami shuriken, a traditional Japanese concealed throwing-star weapon. This dichotomy is a key element of the installation. The pinwheel origami structure allows for a reveal of the name of the victim on the hidden inside of the folded structure. At face value, the pinwheels appear peaceful and serene, few in number and seemingly out-of-place in their environment. On closer examination, the pinwheel will reveal a darker meaning, with the names of the victims and the date of the shooting providing the underlying connotations. The installation will prompt people to reconsider both the installation itself and its setting, and the connection to the site of the shooting. The pinwheels intervening on public spaces will cause people to interact with their usual environment

differently, and multiple sitings of the pinwheels in various locations, may cause a connection to be made amongst people who are seeing the pinwheels for the first time at a particular location, and for people who have seen them at other locations, or have researched/know what they represent. This bringing together of the community would cause a social relationship of “being-with” or “being-in-common” as people are brought together by the installation and with the exchange of information and sentiment. Though the number of origami in each site-specific location may seem small, when documented and represented together as a collection, the photographs of multiple pinwheel origami at various locations will emphasize the impact of gun violence in America. Each installation would be documented and presented together as a series on the website. Providence is a hybrid,



“shall”/“may issue” state for carrying a handgun, and gun control has not been a major issue particularly in Rhode Island. However, the issue of freedom to bear arms and gun control is a major domestic issue, especially in regard to the on-going Black Lives Matter movement and with the recent election. Ideally, the pinwheels would be posted throughout the United States or more rapidly in a concentrated area over a sustained period of time. For the particularities of the time-frame of this project, Providence will be used as a casestudy. The intentions of this project are to both memorialize the lives lost and to emphasize the issue of gun control by bringing the mass shootings that continue to occur across the United States, to a local community. This allows people to imagine the impact a shooting can have if it were to occur in their neighborhood coffeeshop, grocery store, mall, department store, etc. as opposed to

the abstraction and dissonance that occurs in reading about a shooting in another state or hearing about a distant shooting on the news. There will also be a subsequent publication distributed at the university setting at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and subsequently at Yale University, that will link together a map of Providence showing all of the installations. This map allow a secondary audience to interact indirectly with the art project and be prompted to visit the installation sites and the project first-hand. It will also provide a link to the website which will connect all the installations to the mass shootings they represent.

The Premise

Pinwheels is a socially engaged art project that recontextualizes mass shootings, incidents in which four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire, from all across the United States of America to a concentrated area community in Providence, RI. Since the Newtown elementary school shooting in 2012, and arguably before that, gun control and the constitutional right to bear arms has been a long-standing, critical point of dispute in America. While there are a number of both federal and state laws restricting gun control, access to guns and gun violence remain major issues in the United States.

However, the prevailing argument behind the second amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms,� and the polarized opinions on both sides have gridlocked the issue in bureaucratic red tape. Meanwhile, national news coverage has overwhelmed our exposure to violence and disasters across the nation and around the globe; the American populace are oversaturated with information and statistics. Watching and/or reading about the events happening across the nation can be disorienting and hard to contextualize unless viewers are familiar with the area in which the event occurred.



Mass shootings in America occur almost every day. Many people, however, are unaware of this–the shootings are typically only broadcasted on the local area news purview to the area where the shooting occurred. As Susan Noyes Platt addresses in the introduction to Art & Politics Now, Pinwheels is a project that resonates with the “urgent necessity to use the power of art and its image-making capacity to make visible what is kept invisible” (Platt xiv), by recontextualizing and emphasizing the issue of mass shootings in America. Pinwheels comments on the nature of American society today and the issue of domestic safety in relation to gun control and awareness of and to news coverage. Andrew Hewitt and Mel Jordan describe in ‘Politicizing Publics,’ the ability of contemporary, socially engaged artists to “use action and intervention as a way of performing their social critique – participatory art practice,

relational aesthetics and new genre public art can be described as an art that engages directly with the political imagination as opposed to representing it,” (Hewitt 27). Pinwheels uses site-specificity, through a series of installations, to make a parallel connection between the location where a mass shooting occurred in the U.S., and a contextually, similar location in Providence. The site-specificity is integral to the success of Pinwheels and the ability to contextualize the mass shootings in a local community setting. As Miwon Kwon states in her essay on site-specificity, Pinwheels seeks to address the “dominant drive of site-oriented practices today…the pursuit of a more intense engagement with the outside world and everyday life–a critique of culture that is inclusive of non-art spaces, non-art institutions, and non-art issues (blurring the division between art and non-art, in fact). Concerned to integrate art

more directly into the realm of the social, either in order to redress (in an activist sense) urgent social problems” (Kwon 91), in this case, mass shootings in America. Pinwheels serves both as a socially engaged work of art and a relational design project that seeks to publicize and communicate the issue of gun control in the United States. The art itself is a key element in its interpretation, but the emphasis on communication and the issue for which the project stands for, transcend the general art-scene context, as the project itself is situated in a site-specific, urban setting. In her essay, ‘Through the Lens of Social Practice,’ Cameron Cartiere quotes J.D. Thompson in describing the multi-disciplinary nature of socially engaged art. She notes that “Thompson refers to socially engaged art as ‘living as form’ which he describes as: Socially engaged art is not an art movement. Rather, these

cultural practices indicate a new social order – a way of life that emphasize participation, challenge power, and span disciplines ranging from urban planning and community work to theatre and the visual arts,” (Cartiere 22). Pinwheels is a distributed memorial that exists in physical space in the form of installation and a secondary publication, and also has a web presence. The multi-platform dimension allows the project to reach a wider audience in an effort to educate more people and create a larger impact. Each installation will feature origami pinwheels memorializing the lives lost and injured in the shooting. The name and age of one of the victims will be printed inside each of the pinwheels, along with the location and the date of the shooting. A website link will also be provided on the back of the pinwheel which will lead viewers to a website detailing information about the location, lives



involved, and details of the shooting. The location of the installations in Providence will correlate specifically to the location of the mass shooting it is representing. For example, if a mass shooting were to occur in Virginia at a grocery store in which four lives were injured and one person was killed–a reciprocal installation of five origami pinwheels will be installed at East Side Marketplace, a local grocery store in Providence. Each of the pinwheels will represent one life of the victims involved in the mass shooting. Documentation of the installation will be shared on the website homepage–displaying images of multiple installations across Providence and emphasizing the prevalence and frequency of mass shootings in America. The impact of seeing the sheer multitude of pinwheels, and the number of installations in this combined context will stir a sense of urgency and immediacy for viewers.

By placing the installations in a local setting, the shootings themselves will be more direct and viewers will be confronted with the idea that an occurrence such as this can happen “at their very own local grocery store” or, quite frankly, in their very own backyard. The installations also reiterate and emphasize that the mass shootings did happen, and serve as a means of memorializing the lives lost. Pinwheels references Mademoiselle Maurice’s urban, origami installations that reflect upon human nature and the interactions that sustain people and their environment. Maurice was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who lost her life to leukemia. Sadako was two years old when the bomb hit Hiroshima in 1945, and at age twelve she was hospitalized with leukemia. On her death bed, she attempted to fold one thousand paper cranes, Japanese legend

relaying that by doing so she may be granted one wish. She died before she could finish; her one wish was to live. The paper pinwheels abstract and commemorate the innocent lives lost in America every day, and the transience of life and death. The pinwheel shape is both playful and child-like, representing innocence and time. It also mimics a Japanese throwing star, or shuriken–reemphasizing the fatal nature of the weaponry involved and its concealed nature. Ideally, viewers would be exposed to multiple installations across areas of town and would be intrigued to look inside the pinwheel and examine it more closely. Upon reading it, the connection will be made that the installation serves as a memorial. The website link will provide a means of further explanation, and by showing photos of all the installations in context with the shootings they represent, viewers will recognize the prevalence of mass shootings in

America and make a direct connection via the familiarity of the sites of the installations. A subsequent means of distribution and publication of the website will be provided that will give access to the website and allow viewers to seek out the locations of the installations after having viewed the work online. While choosing to address the issue of gun violence and mass shootings in America through this project without an actual means of tackling how to resolve the problem, Pinwheels is a socially engaged project that seeks to educate and change the way people think about mass shootings in America and their interactions with a public space and domestic safety. Pinwheels does not attempt to create “quantifiably measurable” social change, but rather, the project recognizes Sinziana Ravini’s conclusion to Rethinking Relational Aesthetics, “[i]t takes time to overturn a mental structure, and the effects are not always



visible. Art that chooses provocation as its primary goal or social change as its immediate effect does nothing but produce confusion and disappointment,� (Ravini 333). However, a shift in behavior or the opinions of people who interact with the installation, in itself, could be a successful means of achieving social change and that is a key objective of the project. Pinwheels seeks to memorialize the lives lost and make aware the issue of gun violence in the U.S. through a series of site-specific installations in a local community. It requires the engagement of viewers and their active participation in reading/opening the pinwheels, and then being lead to the website detailing information about the site; this will encourage dialogue and awareness to gun violence. Pinwheels is a distributed memorial that highlights mass shootings in America, recontextualized and memorialized as socially engaged art.

Scenario / Storyboard


First, research information about mass shootings and note factual information.

Map the locations of the shootings and find related contextual locations in host community–i.e. Providence.

Dedicate a pinwheel for each victim for each of the installaitons, and design and fold the origami structures.


Using the information from research and the mapped locations, create a website to host the information online.

Design the supplementary handout that maps the local, recontextualized installation locations. The handout/guide will be distributed after the installations are posted.

Install the pinwheels in the five locaitons and document the installations for the website and handout.

The Installation Locations Correlating Shooting Locations


East Side Mini-Mart 252 Brook St. near Brown University

Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel 79 Washington St. concert/music venue

Ultra the Nightclub 172 Pine Street nightclub setting

September 26, 2016 Wesleyan Plaza 5450 Wesleyan St Houston, Texas near supermarket stripmall, adjacent to a university setting

September 18, 2016 JazzE Ellington House of Blues 421 Rivermont Avenue Lynchburg, Virginia music and culture venue

September 4, 2016 Monsters Bar and Grill 1020 Orange Avenue NE Roanoke, Virginia club/restaurant


The Governor (Apartments) 125 Governor St. apartment/shared-living

Eastside Marketplace 165 Pitman St. local grocery store

New Shop N’ Go Convenice 71 Hope St. mini-market near residential area

August 29, 2016 Renee Jennex Small Family Home 41450 Cruz Way Temecula, California adult family home

February 20, 2016 Tip-Top Grocery 446 S Parramore Avenue Orlando, Florida grocery store setting

October 30, 2016 Samuel Gompers Houses 135 Ridge Street New York (Manhattan), New York mini-mart near residential area


After the installations are posted, update the design of the website and the handout with documentations of the actual installations.

The supplementary publication will be distributed at the publishing event, Infinite Exchange, at the Rhode Island School of Design Graphic Design Commons on December 9, 2016, and at the Yale Odds and Ends art bookfair in New Haven on December 12, 2016.

Expected Interactions


The public/audience will notice the installation in urban environments across the city; without any prior knowledge of what the installation stands for or when/why it was made.

The audience will be prompted to engage with the pinwheels, noticing the transparency and information inside. They will be prompted to open the pinwheel.

Reading the name of the victim and the information inside the pinwheel, they will either recognize the installation as a memorial or be prompted by the URL link.


Seeing the link, they will go online and find more information on the online website.

From the website, they will be prompted to go to other locations and to see the installation across the city.

Seeing the multitude of the installations, and reading about the project online, the audience will be informed about what the project is about and the issue of gun violence in the United States.


Others will be able to engage with the installation first through the guide.

The guide will provide information leading them to where the installaitons are located. The guide will also have a link to the website.

They will either go to the locatiosn themselves, or be prompted to share the information with others.


Through exposure to this project, either in they physical or online form, the people of Providence will become aware of gun violence happening every day across the United States.

Ideally, this will prompt people to take a stance and make a change for the betterment of our nation and national security.


Works Cited


Bourriaud, Nicolas. Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World. 2nd ed. New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2005. Print. Cartiere, Cameron. “Through the Lens of Social Practice.” Ed. Martin Zebracki. The Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space and Social Inclusion. Ed. Cameron Cartiere. New York: Routledge, 2016. 13-26. Print. Doherty, Claire. Out of Time, out of Place: Public Art (now). London: Art, 2015. Print. Helguera, Pablo. Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. New York: Jorge Pinto, 2011. Print. Hewitt, Andrew, and Mel Jordan. “Politicizing Publics.” Ed. Cameron Cartiere and Martin Zebracki. The Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space and Social Inclusion. New

York: Routledge, 2016. 27-44. Print. Kwon, Miwon. “One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity.” October 80 (1997): 85-110. The MIT Press. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. Mademoiselle Maurice. Mademoiselle Maurice, n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2016. “Mass Shootings – 2016.” Gun Violence Archive. Gun Violence Archive, n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2016. Platt, Susan Noyes. “Introduction.” Art and Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis. New York: Midmarch Art, 2010. Xi-Xxi. Print. Ravini, Sinziana. “Rethinking Relational Aesthetics.” Neighbourhood Secrets: Art as Urban Processes. Oslo, Norway: Press, 2009. 322-33. Print.



Content written, designed and produced by Jason Fujikuni.


Pinwheels is a project designed and executed by Jason Fujikuni, derived from the Experimental Publishing, Graphic Design studio, and Social Environments, an art history class, at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Esther Thyssen Paul Souellis Lucy Hitchcock Alex Nunes Hasan Askari

This book was designed with the typeface Seria and printed and bound at the Rhode Island School of Design. December 2016


Background and theoretical underpinnings behind the socially engaged art project. December 2016