I was flipping through some of my pictures when this one surfaced. It’s the sculpture Pantopol, by Ted Jonsson, at SeaTac international airport. I’ve always liked this sculpture. It’s one that appears to change from as you walk around it. It does not change, of course, but your perception of it does. I probably have a dozen pictures of it from all angles as a subject in my college photography courses. Then, the airport was remodeled and it disappeared. Frankly, I completely lost track of it.
During a layover at the airport, I went exploring and found it, perhaps a decade removed from when I had seen it last. I was stunned by the transformation. The sculpture may be the same, but the setting had completely changed its context.
You see, it used to be in a dimly lit place near elevators, escalators, and artificial light. It was a cold piece of hard chrome that people hurried past. The piece always seemed to be pointing to motion.
Here, at the end of A concourse, it’s completely different. Surrounded by benches and people waiting, bathed in natural light, it picks up the color and reflected light of the space around it. The piece is warm and inviting, covered with fingerprints and smudges. It seems soft and colorful. It’s renewed, refreshed, and it is relaxing to look at.
And of course, the piece itself is unchanged.