The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, September 20, 2019

Shortening: Making Irrational Rational - a new art installation opens at Alcatraz
Artist and mathematician Nelson Saiers installed 100 NFL football jerseys in sequence with the digits of Pi in Alcatraz's New Industries Building to weigh in on the "irrationally" long prison sentences given for minor, nonviolent drug offenses. The exhibit is titled "Shortening: Making Irrational Rational."

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Running through mid-January 2017, the National Park Service and Nelson Saiers—artist and math Ph.D.— present an installation called Shortening: Making Irrational Rational, installed in the New Industries Building at Alcatraz, best known for the historic federal penitentiary and occupation by the Indians of All Tribes. Using 100 NFL football jerseys and a three painted on AstroTurf, the exhibition incorporates properties of the number Pi and prison vernacular, to weigh in on the "irrationally" long prison sentences given for minor, nonviolent drug offenses and the need to shorten those sentences.

Artist Nelson Saiers explains, “In prison, long sentences are often referred to as ‘football numbers’ because the duration in years resembles numbers on a football jersey (or field). An irrational number is one that never ends nor repeats—like the vast majority of numbers, Pi has this property. In contrast, an example of a rational number would be one that has only a finite string of digits like 3.1415. Hence, the number on the football jerseys and AstroTurf that was formed by truncating Pi's infinitely long string of digits down to its first 201 is rational. Hence, by shortening Pi we have turned it from an irrational to rational number and by analogy by shortening these ‘irrationally’ long prison sentences we will be making them ‘rational.’”

The jerseys are attached to hemp line with clothes pins—"hung out to dry"—a nod to society's unfair treatment of these offenders. The green AstroTurf also points to the expression "go on the green carpet," i.e., go to court. The choice of Pi (and its inherent relation to the circle) also points to the cyclical nature of prisons and poverty.

Other elements of the installation are designed to give visitors an opportunity to learn more about this storied venue. The first 200 digits of Pi include the number 85, which is shown on a Chicago Bears’ jersey. It turns out 85 was the prison number of Al Capone who rose to infamy as boss of the famous Chicago Outfit. Native American activism plays an important part of Alcatraz's storied history and one that Saiers chose to highlight by painting over the derogatory word "Redskins" on Washington football jerseys.

Despite being closed for over 50 years, Alcatraz is the most visible and recognizable prison in the USA, attracting media coverage, filmmakers and tourists. Best known as an inescapable island designed to imprison military and federal convicts, “The Rock” was viewed as a place that would protect us from villains who would not abide by society's laws. Unfortunately, today's highly privatized and oversubscribed prison system imprisons many for durations that are disproportionate to the crimes they have committed. Most of these are not career criminals but often people with few options who made bad decisions—after becoming felons, they often have no options and the cycle continues.

Alcatraz has a long tradition of welcoming artists to provoke thought about freedom and incarceration. This exhibition shines a light on the important topic of prison reform.

Today's News

July 29, 2016

21 works ranging from the Asuka period to the Kamakura period on view in Rome

Exhibition of artists' books by and after Ed Ruscha opens at Gagosian in Beverly Hills

Robert Rauschenberg's Goat to travel to United Kingdom for first time in over 50 years

Charles Lindbergh's flying hat, worn during the first New York-Paris flight, to go under the hammer

Costume Institute's fall 2016 exhibition to focus on recently collected works

Van Gogh Museum recreates Yellow Brick Road of The Wizard of Oz

Whey to go: 17th-century cheese found in Baltic wreck

On the Road: Artcurial to offer 80 automobiles this October

Prints for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to go on sale

BOZAR introduces the Pieter Paul art guide app

Artist Tehching Hsieh to represent Taiwan at Venice Biennale 2017

Walters Art Museum launches investment manager diversity initiative

Holocaust Survivor Band returns home to Poland

Finnish composer Rautavaara dies at 87

New York City artist uses 10,000 painting stills to create animated film about the mind

Inti Guerrero appointed as the Curator of EVA International: Ireland's Biennial 2018

Series of eight large colour prints by Sigalit Landau on view at Marlborough Contemporary

Shortening: Making Irrational Rational - a new art installation opens at Alcatraz

Summer group exhibition on view at Anita Rogers Gallery

Jonathan Owen opens exhibition at Ingleby Gallery

Solo show of recent works by New York based artist Ben Charles Weiner on view at Mark Moore Gallery

Getty Foundation announces 2016 Keeping it Modern grants that span the globe

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful