North Square Public Art Project | A+J Art+Design


Maritime and Navigation Stories

On the east side of the Square near the intersection of Sun Court and Moon Streets and the former Seamen’s Bethel (now Sacred Heart Church) is the fourth sculpture. The site is also in front of the former location of the Second Church of Boston where the 17th Century amateur astronomer Reverend Increase Mather was based. The Interactive Marine Instrument is primarily derived from nautical navigation instruments. The sculpture offers imaginary views rather than the more representational views of the map and the relief as a complex viewing and navigation instrument with an assemblage of scopes facing in many different directions. Each scope aims towards what appear to be abstract patterns within the sculpture, but when the viewer peers through a scope’s aperture a coherent image is revealed. The abstract patterns are based on a form of visual distortion called oblique anamorphism. An oblique anamorphic image appears correct only when seen from a specific oblique angle, to which the scopes will be appropriately set.

The scopes will include some explanatory text, and will point in the actual direction of the sites represented in or associated with the oblique anamorphic scenes. Children will be able to step up to peer through polished eyepieces and discover a secret view.

The images seen through the scopes are still under consideration, as is the precise anamorphic strategy. The final images could be other shipwrecks in Boston Harbor or different historic people associated with mariners whose stories are based in North Square. In essence, though, the Interactive Marine Instrument will provide a view of scenes from distant time, rather than of objects from distant space as with a telescope or sextant.

We are making this sculpture in consultation with Ben Edwards , author of One April in Boston, and other local historians.