Phoebe Moore Stares Down Tacoma

Test photo from a Phoebe Moore video installation. Photo courtesy of the artist.

If you’re walking the street near the corner of 950 Pacific Ave., you may get the feeling you’re being watched. That’s because in her new window installation for Spaceworks Tacoma, artist Phoebe Moore has installed two video monitors with roving eyes, “to create the illusion that the building [has] a face. I practiced this project on my own home last year and the effect is striking. It looks a bit like a giant is trapped inside the building.” Especially at night. In addition to the staring, blinking video peepers, Moore has made and installed crude papier-mâché eyeballs – too many to count – to observe passersby.

Study for a building with eyes by Phoebe Moore.

The specter of large, disembodied eyes peering out from a business highrise holds obvious connotations – 24-hour surveillance, homeland security, an Orwellian goodbye to privacy. The title of the installation, Argus Panoptes, refers to a Greek mythological giant with 100 eyes. But the fact that they are female orbs gives this installation a fresh twist. “Those are my eyeballs,” says Moore. “I filmed a bunch of different eyeballs, but I decided to go with the ones closest to me….Some of the eyes are big and scared, some of them are crinkled and laughing. I really wanted there to be an eye for everyone.” Maybe the building is not so malevolent in spirit after all; maybe if that concrete face could hum, it would be We Only Have Eyes for You. She adds speculatively: “I’d love to see a cathedral with eyes instead of stained glass – but that might be really creepy.”

Moore pulls some strings at a puppet show. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Moore is a native Tacoman now living and working in Olympia. In addition to being a videographer she designs puppets, and is the founder of Atomic Playground, a variety show for emerging musicians, puppeteers and video makers in the state capitol. In 2011, she started The Olympia Exquisite Corpse, a collaborative film competition which spotlighted 12 participating teams. Phoebe Moore is an artist to keep an eye on!

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