Michael LaRocco, San Francisco, Tokyo, Artist

SAN FRANCISCO: LIVED IN

Breaking the fourth wall is a concept in fiction in which a character can address the audience, via the author using his own awareness of an audience perceiving the art and “breaking” the silence between the two. For any contemporary metropolitan resident, this imperceptible fourth wall exists in our daily lives, acting as a barrier between privilege and suffering as the income-secure residents of a city cross paths daily with its homeless population, typically without acknowledgment.

 

San Francisco: Lived In, Michael LaRocco’s iPhone art installation breaks this imaginary fourth wall. Displaying a series of smartphone images documenting his interactions with San Francisco’s homeless population, La Rocco’s mobile app-manipulated prints, far from being aloof observations, are the artifacts of his interactions and dialogues with San Francisco’s homeless population. The resulting images, taken inside myriad public spaces that his subjects occupy, are juxtaposed with the GAP corporation’s own Lived In urban advertising campaign copy posted in the same public spaces.

 

Through San Francisco: Lived In, LaRocco transmutes his wariness into a desire to communicate with the homeless population of San Francisco and to turn his curiosity into education. In doing so, he demonstrates that the fourth wall is the product of our atrophying sense of compassion — perceiving the ironies and injustices of the homeless we choose, in each moment, whether or not to acknowledge them. San Francisco: Lived In represents LaRocco’s acknowledgment, not solutions, grandstanding, or explanations — just a growing awareness and desire to renegotiate the fourth wall barrier through an initiation of a greater acknowledgment of the homeless community.

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