Community Arts & Culture

The Chapel Hill Public Library - UNBOUND

Erik Carlson

Providence, RI


etched glass panels, glass lenses, video moniors

Chapel Hill Public Library
main floor, 100 Library Drive
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UNBOUND is a permanent installation of four etched glass panels with 118 embedded convex lenses and 14 hidden video monitors.  The title UNBOUND refers to the opening up and sharing of information that has been "bound" and stored.
The lenses reveal random images collected from the community, reflecting Chapel Hill’s “library” of memories, both personal and shared.  The lenses reference Braille - the first digital form of writing.  The etched panels illustrate a short history of modern communication:  Morse code, handwriting, shorthand, and binary code punch cards.  UNBOUND invites you to unbind the mysteries of these coded languages, including Braille.  The changing images within each lens are a form of digital media, one of the newest modes of communication.

IMG_3739_cropped4artplan_webThrough glass portals viewers will see, in a random order, images, photographs, movies, and more that were submitted by the people of Chapel Hill. The images are displayed on a series of hidden video monitors, behind the panels, that are computer controlled to allow for endless combinations of image sequences.  As visitors interact with the artwork, the content is revealed in different ways.

“The Library itself is a highly interactive space that reflects the community and has really become a destination,” notes CHPL Director Susan Brown. “We are incredibly excited to unveil this piece that is also interactive and community-based and we are certain that it will become a destination in and of itself.”

Erik Carlson is a media artist, composer and designer based in Providence, RI. He was selected to create this amazing work of art for CHPL from a pool of 235 applicants. Erik’s recent media-inspired installations can be seen in San Diego, Denver, Nashville, Dubai, and now Chapel Hill. An overview of his work can be found at

UNBOUND is part of the Town’s Percent for Art program, established in 2002, which allocates 1% of selected capital project expenditures for public art. The selection committee included members of the Public Arts Commission, Town Council, Library and Town staff, as well as members of the local arts community. Carlson was chosen for this project after a rigorous selection process.


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