Farmer Jack Piece  (1985)

The man on the phone owned a chain of eighty supermarkets in the Detroit area.
He said " I want a piece like you made for Carl Levin."
I said, "That's a big order. The Senate Piece is about America, government, politics, law, economics. ...the whole magilla!  How would that apply to a super market chain?"
He said, " You're the artist.  You figure it out."
"That's a good answer." I said.  He said, "Look.  I don't want to play games. Think about it and call me with a price when you've got an idea."

The man on the phone was Paul Borman, President of the Borman Company which owned and operated over eighty Farmer Jack supermarkets in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
Four years later I installed the sculpture in his corporate headquarters.

The FARMER JACK PIECE consists of three sculptures connected electronically. THE SHOPPING GODDESS is the largest of the three and controls the other two.  THE SHOPPING GODDESS portrays a silhouetted woman with a shopping cart. Thought bubbles float from her head drift up behind her. The first is empty. The second shows three hungry mouths. The largest thought bubble is a 30" by 40" circuit board that combines working electronics with imagery relating to food production and distribution. These electronics collect information about human activities in Mr. Borman's office where THE SHOPPING GODDESS is located. The sensory information from these circuits is fed into an on-board microcomputer capable of linking to the corporation's main frame so that corporate data could be used in the sculpture. 
"The Shopping Goddess"   6 x 9 x 13' feet
Black, painted, plywood silhouette, half of shopping cart, items from store shelves, circuitry.

The Thought Bubble of the Shopping Goddess is the brain of the Farmer Jack Piece.  It distinguishes soft sounds from loud ones, monitors ambient light levels in the environment and detects the movement of people in front of it.  Much of its circuitry monitors and records these activities for varying lengths of time, compares this data and controls the various functions and actions of the other  sculptures. The behavior of the three sculptures is related to activities around it.
Two features within the THOUGHT BUBBLE are the "Oracle"  and "the Graph".  The "Oracle" generally displays messages relating to the business but sometimes the messages are fits of cursing triggered by specific office events. On rare occasions, it displays personal messages to Mr. Borman. 
"The Graph" is a 16 by 16 grid of green LEDs (light emitting diodes) capable of creating bar charts and line graphs or simply tracing random figures. The activities of "the Oracle" and "the Graph" can be coordinated.
Detail of the  "Goddess' Thought Bubble"   28 x 38 inches
Electronic printed circuit board (Green patinated copper traces on epoxy fiberglass substrate, populated with TTL integrated circuits, LEDs and other electronic components)  The circuit pattern exist also as a small edition serigraph.

The second sculpture, JUMPING JACK, is located in Mr. Borman's office. Superficially, it resembles a medieval shrine. The central figure of the sculpture is the smiling farmer holding a bushel basket full of produce. This is the Farmer Jack trademark which is a familiar figure to Detroit area residents.  Farmer Jack is flanked by representations of Mr. Borman's father, Al, and his uncle, Tom, founders of the corporation. Surrounding this group are small fetish-like bundles and packages of food and other items of a symbolic nature relating to the heritage of the family, the business, and Paul Borman. The Farmer Jack figure is articulated and animated by way of computer controlled solenoids to express a variety of emotional states, ranging from blissful abandonment to uncontrolled fury.
Jumping Jack"   18 x 14 x 4 inches
Acrylic lacquer paint on  steel, acrylic polymer paint and gold leaf on styrene, solenoids, blue velvet, beads and other items related to the Borman family.

The third sculpture, "COMMODITIES", is located on a wall near Mr. Borman's  secretary in an outer office. It consists of pieces of dried corn, beans and peanuts on three rods that occasionally rotate causing the pieces to rise and fall. Two partially hidden electric timing motors cause a representation of the sun and a cloud to move with respect to one another.  The cloud occasionally eclipses the sun. As a counterpoint to all this, a dollar bill tied to the end of a lever on a rotating arm, gradually rises and suddenly falls in response to the workings of THE SHOPPING GODDESS's thought bubble.

22 x 46 x 5 inches
Acrylic painted steel, timer motors, beans, peanuts.

Short clip on YouTube

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