If you’re driving down Allen Parkway in Houston on your morning commute, you may spot a traffic sign that displays cryptic messages such as “Danger: Anthropocentrism” or “Warning: Hurricane Human” or “For Symbiosis: Reduce Speed Now.”
At first glance, the signage seems to be the product of some elaborate teenage prank or political joke, as Courtney Fisher, a reporter from ABC13, surmised recently on Twitter: “Spotted this on the way into work. Safe to say… we got hacked.” But the repurposed LED traffic sign is in reality a conceptual, text-based artwork by the Brooklyn-based artist Justin Brice Guariglia.
We Are the Asteroid III (2019), is part of a series a solar-powered message boards presenting funny and heady aphorisms about the negative ecological impact humans have on the planet. The poetic phrases for the work are culled from Rice Professor Timothy Morton’s HYPEROBJECTS: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, among other texts.
Reminiscent of Jenny Holzer’s Survival series, Guariglia’s work focuses primarily on the pressing issue of climate change. Earlier examples of this work have been exhibited at Storm King Sculpture Park in New York, at EXPO Chicago in 2018, and most recently at Moody Center for the Arts in Houston. However, this time the work is presented outside of the context of a museum or art institution.
In collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the work was installed overnight at the Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain, along Allen Parkway just east of Waugh Drive, according to ABC13. We Are the Asteroid III will be on view through August 31.