History of the Documentary Art Project
In 1990, I was a recipient of a Canada Arts Council travel grant. The idea behind my project was to locate and photo document B. Fuller’s first landmark buildings in North America. I decided to concentrate on six original structures. The Dymaxion House was part of that list and was the “oldest” visionary Fuller prototype still standing.
The Canada Arts Council decided to award me such a grant in part because of my socially committed art work concentrating exclusively on Fuller’s Montreal Expo 67 geodesic dome. Over the span of eight years, my art exhibitions, multimedia installations, video interviews, and illegal “occupation” of the dome did help alert the local municipal and provincial authorities that a unique architectural landmark was in danger of slipping away from us. The Montreal Expo dome had in fact been abandoned for nearly two decades. During my ongoing research, in the late 1980s, I realized that other famous Fuller prototypes were in danger of being lost forever. It became a priority for me to go out in the field and rediscover these early Fuller buildings and see firsthand how well they were “surviving” the ravages of time and possible neglect. The challenge was to create an original photo document revealing the actual state of these other structures and eventually use the documentation to alert local authorities to recognize and possibly help save other abandoned or forgotten Fuller buildings. In the 1980s there were already over 300,000 geodesic domes of various sizes and diameters built in North America using or borrowing some of Fuller’s patents. More interested in the original large scale structures built by Fuller with various collaborators, I found and created a short list of six memorable and unique prototypes that spanned the years of 1945 to 1967. And they are:
- The Dymaxion Dwelling Machine, 1945-46, located just outside Wichita, Kansas
- The Union Tank Car Dome, 1958, located just outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- The Union Dome of the Graver Tank Division, 1959, located in Wood River, Illinois (near St. Louis)
- The ASM dome, or American Society for Metals geodesic dome, 1959, located just outside Cleveland, Ohio
- The Climatron dome, part the St. Louis Botanical Gardens, 1960, St. Louis, Missouri
- The Fuller/Sadao Expo 67 geodesic dome, 1967, Montreal, Canada
At the time of the photo documentation (and earlier), I discovered that a total of three original Fuller prototypes, from this short list, were in danger of slipping away from us.