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Proceed With Caution




Nicholas Tilma

Stop lights, street lights, and construction barriers are all objects that act as forms of control in the built environment. Stop lights control the flow of traffic, street lights tell you where it’s safe to walk and illuminate the vastness of our built world, and construction barriers prevent us from entering work zones and redirect us. While these objects are intended to allow us to – or prevent us from – doing certain things, the rules will always be broken. But these objects have power – the signals they give us are part of the social contract, and although they are often intended to provide safety, they can also be used, or appropriated, to keep us from going places, to contain us, or even commandeered by the public to send messages (hacked construction signs), or protect themselves. Recently, in the protests against police brutality, we have seen the Chicago Police Department raise drawbridges to contain protestors. In many other cities, we have seen images of protestors using construction barriers and temporary fences as a defense against police in riot gear and police cars driving into protestors. While these recent examples speak to the grim reality we currently face, I want to offer a different perspective of these objects, while also critiquing their function.

In my work, I draw from the visual forms and material palette of these objects in the built environment, and reimagine them to create new domestic objects. These works are an homage to the forms, colors, and materials objectively, while offering a symbolic critique of the ways these objects are used as a form of control.


Metal, Acrylic, Cement

Proceed With CautionNicholas Tilma
00:00 / 02:43
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