University Museums

Title: guardians and their territories
Name: Photograph
Date: 1995
Medium: Black and white photograph
Dimensions: 4 x 19 1/2 in. (10.2 x 49.5 cm)
Classification: Photographs
Credit Line: Gift of Pilar Garcia. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: um95.36abcd
More Information
The strong public art tradition at Iowa State has always fostered an environment for intellectual stimulation and dialogue, encouraging individuals to respond to their aesthetic surroundings. In 1995 the University Museums launched an innovative project which chronicled one artist's visual responses to the Art on Campus Collection at Iowa State University. Photographer King Au was commissioned to reinterpret the collection for the exhibition, "Interpretations of the Interpretations," pushing the envelope of dialogue to include visual language.

"Guardians and Their Territories" was one of Au's interpretations of the "G-Nome Project," a series of installations by Andrew Leicester for the Molecular Biology Building. In this particular work, Au photographed the G-Nomes, which are perched on the four corners of the building as major focal points. Scrutinized over the years as visual representations of genetic science, the G-Nomes have been gazed upon by admirers and critics. Au chose to reverse roles for "Guardians and Their Territories," transporting the viewer into the vantage point of the G-Nomes. Au encourages the viewer to see the campus and. more metaphorically, our environment through the eyes of another.

This work of art captures the current and implied changes in our campus environment brought on by science and technology. Framed between two G-Nomes, who represent the guardians of this new technology, the skyline view of campus buildings forecast future change.
Genetic engineering through recombining, restructuring, and recoding genetic materials of plants and animals accelerates change much faster than natural evolution. Because of genetic engineering, the term human built environment takes on expanded meanings ranging from molecular to architectural structures.