“The Point of Final Collapse” is a daily broadcast from the tower at San Francisco Art Institute’s Chestnut Street campus. (Courtesy photo)

“The Point of Final Collapse” is a daily broadcast from the tower at San Francisco Art Institute’s Chestnut Street campus. (Courtesy photo)

Long-term installation sounds out about Millennium Tower

‘Point of Final Collapse’ addresses SF’s sinking downtown skyscraper

By Hannah Bennett

Artists Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist have their sights set on San Francisco’s Millennium Tower – literally.

Their collective Postcommodity’s sound installation “The Point of Collapse” focuses on the notoriously sinking downtown skyscraper, and calls for change.

The project, the culmination of two-year Postcommodity’s residency at the San Francisco Art Institute, uses algorithms to map the movement of the structurally compromised tower onto autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) audio.

Calling it a way they “put headphones on The City,” the result is a series of relaxing sounds broadcast in the direction of downtown San Francisco.

Launched on Nov. 15, 2019, “The Point of Final Collapse” plays every day at 5 p.m. for four minutes from the tower of San Francisco Art Institute’s Chestnut Street campus. While some have said it’s not loud enough to bother residential neighbors, and other passersby apparently have called it “terrifying,” the installation will continue until the Millennium Tower is “fixed or torn down.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the artists say, “The lockdown has reduced foot traffic and audience engagement, [but] the piece will continue as normal throughout the pandemic, and long after.”

Cristóbal Martínez, left, and Kade L. Twist are the art collective Postcommodity. (Courtesy photo)

Cristóbal Martínez, left, and Kade L. Twist are the art collective Postcommodity. (Courtesy photo)

Martínez, chair of Art and Technology at SFAI, and Twist, an associate professor at Otis College in Los Angeles, met while studying at the University of Arizona in the early 2000s.

The artists have a history of working with topics of social and cultural import. Martínez, who is Mestizo, and Twist, a member of the Cherokee nation, create art addressing what it means to be an indigenous person in the 21st century.

They were prepared when they came across stories about the problematic Millennium Tower. “At the time that we had accepted the project, neither of us were living in California,” they said. “The Millennium tower had identified us. It had global meaning.”

As revelations about the structural integrity of the Millennium Tower made the news, the artists thought, “This was our chance. It was something that spoke to us, it was something that was real, it was evolving. It was going to be a public taxpayer issue.”

Martínez and Twist knew they had big shoes to fill when they were offered a residency and commissioning project in 2016, funded by the Harker Institute. The artists felt the pressure of the challenge when they began to look at possible projects, saying, “We were searching for a metaphor that could hold the ambitions we were handed by the invitation.”

With “The Point of Final Collapse” receiving media attention at least nine local publications, press around their work continues to grow. It appears Martínez and Twist may have successfully fulfilled the challenge of their residency.

Despite the work they’ve done, the artists aren’t hopeful of seeing a change anytime soon.

Throughout the years they’ve spent working on this project, Twist and Martínez have witnessed how slowly change can happen with large projects.

“It’s not fixed until it’s fixed,” they said. The installation may be there for a long time yet. “[Fixing it] would be a tremendous engineering feat to be achieved,” they said. “We’ll see.”


The Point of Final Collapse

Presented by Postcommodity

Where: Tower, San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., S.F.

When: 5:01 p.m. daily until Millennium Tower is fixed or torn down

Tickets: Free

Contact: https://sfai.edu/exhibitions-public-events/detail/postcommodity-the-point-of-final-collapse

Museums and Galleries

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Mayor London Breed announces The City’s return to the red tier for COVID-19 precautions at Pier 39 on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco enters red COVID tier, indoor dining to resume

Museums and gyms can reopen with capacity limits

Cities including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are calling for large grocery and drug store chains to pay employees hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shutterstock)
SF proposes $5 hazard pay law for grocery, drug store workers

San Francisco may soon join the growing number of cities requiring large… Continue reading

The deYoung Museum will reopen to the public March 6 with an exhibition of works by Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. (Courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
de Young Museum to reopen with ‘Calder-Picasso’

With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, The City’s museums and cultural institutions are reopening.… Continue reading

Oregon forward Lydia Giomi (14) goes into block Cardinal Hannah Jumps (33) shot and narrowly misses. No. 13 Ducks host No. 6 Stanford Cardinal at Matthew Knight Arena on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (Tribune News Service)
Stanford women enter Pac-12 Tournament as No. 1 seed

College basketball schedule for March released

(Travis Dye/Oregonlive.com via Tribune News Service)

Most Read