Tuesday, November 06, 2007

the oxygen utility dome...

oxygen utility dome

the oxygen utility dome was designed by doloris holmes. holmes was an artist / activist, who eventually founded the white mask theatre and changed her name to janais (to honor both janis joplin and anaïs nin) in the mid 1970s.

i'm not sure if the oxygen utility dome was designed specificaly for the 1970 "art for everyday living" series of articles or if it was something she had been working on prior. the drawing and ideas behind it certainly came at the beginnings of the ecological movement, and also relate to ideas that were prevelant in science fiction films of the time, like silent running...and there's a good chance it was inspired by the mitchell park domes, built in milwaukee, and completed in 1967 (these domes, coincidentally, were considered for locations for silent running...).

the idea of the oxygen utility dome was that it would be run like a utility "along the lines of con edison", and would contain a number of different kinds of spaces and uses; but mainly providing a series of "clean air rooms" - where one could get clean air by putting "a coin in a meter at the door of a room".

holmes was also interested in the dome as a site of social interaction and specific kinds of activity. before arriving at the clean air room of one's choice, one enters a bookstore, art supply store, or music library - where focused breathing becomes an activity accompanying art making or experiencing. along with the 300 clean air rooms there are communal spaces where "alienated men and women can talk to others" and a small children's zoo with hairless and featherless animals for allergic children. the dome would also include a botanical garden of plants which are becoming extinct accompanied by a soundtrack of calls of extinct birds.

the article ends with the words: a small prototype of the oxygen utility dome is to be built next year. i can't find any information as to whether or not this happened, but in holmes' archives there is a folder called - proposals [1969-1970] by doloris holmes with clippings [1970-1977] about her oxygen utility dome - so i'm guessing something was built or there were more published proposals.

...and did i mention how much i love this drawing...

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