Best Literary-Prowess Public Art

Language of the Birds

Few examples of San Francisco public art reflect their setting as successfully as this site-specific installation at North Beach's cultural nexus. Brian Goggins and Dorka Keehn's Language of the Birds catches 23 open books in midflight over Columbus and Broadway, spilling random phrases onto the asphalt below. The suspended books are crafted from translucent white polycarbonate embedded with LED lights powered by solar panels on the roof of City Lights Bookstore half a block away; at night, they throb and blink like the neonized strip joints across the street. The sentence fragments represent 90 of the neighborhood's outstanding authors, including Gary Snyder and Jade Snow Wong, and are etched in the concrete in different overlapping fonts, creating an effect that would please any Beat.

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