Eto Otitigbe

Looping Back Build Process

LOOPING BACK’s final design consisted of twenty-one separate units.  Each one having a plywood “substructure” that provided structural integrity.  All of these substructures were “skinned” with poplar bark shingles.  Fourteen units, which were identical in design, made up the smaller sections of the overall structure. Each of the remaining seven units had a unique structural design.  

I initially I developed LOOPING BACK’s using two CAD software applications Solidworks and Rhino. These two applications made it easy for me to fabricate the fourteen identical sections.  However as I went on to construct the remaining sections, which were larger and more complex in design, I could no longer rely on software or even simple measuring devices like rulers.  I had to create each of these sections by hand and eye, relying solely the experience I gained from making the smaller sections.  At this point the only other tools I could use to were a band saw, hand-held electric drill, and an angle-finder.  This process of using simple tools to achieve complex forms is typically employed by boat builders.  I view this type creative process as a form of improvisation.  I gained a certain degree of mastery over the materials and form while making the smaller repeated sections.  Then I was able to abandon the repeated structures in favor of a composition that was varied and more complex.

The installation of LOOPING BACK took longer than I initially anticipated.  I made about 6-8 separate trips to my site instead of the 3-4 that I initially anticipated.  My project required rather precise layout of the anchoring positions.  That step alone required one trip for layout and another trip to coordinate digging of the holes with the assistance of the staff at Randall’s Island.  During this process the park’s staff was extremely helpful and supportive.

I would like to thank Uchenna Itam, Ben Weisgall, Stephan Williams, Stefan Keneas, and DJ Zuko! for their support throughout the entire design and fabrication process.  I definitely could not have pulled this off without them.

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The Artist

Eto Otitigbe(b. 1977, Buffalo, New York)

Eto Otitigbe is polymedia artist whose practice includes sculpture, performance, and installation to investigate issues of race, technology, politics, and human interaction.

His work is charged with current political subject matter such as the over-engineering of society’s basic needs like food and water. Otitigbe’s art can be experienced as type of a creative protest, a cultural artifact, or a radical sculptural environment.

Otitigbe places his art in dialogue with itself by extracting still images from videos and turning them into digital prints; or transforming two-dimensional graphics into sculptural reliefs.

Eto Otitigbe was born in the northern corner of New York State to parents from Nigeria’s Delta Region. He has lived across the United States, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. He operates like an open system in constant flux negotiating between the various polar regions of his identity: Nigerian-Artist-American-Engineer-DJ-Designer, to name a few.

Otitigbe studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts (BS, 1999) and Stanford University, Palo Alto, California (MS, 2003).  He earned an MFA in Creative Practice from the Transart Institute (2012). In 2013 he participated in the Bronx Museum’s AIM Residency program and biennial. Otitigbe lives and works between Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, New York.

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