​​​​​​​Phoenix Forensics Crime Lab
Pattern Recognition



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ARTIST:  Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schechter
DATE:  2007
LOCATION:  Phoenix Forensics Crime Lab, 621 West Washington Street
TYPE:  Hanging
MATERIALS:  Steel & Glass
BUDGET:  $250,000
DISTRICT:  7 (formerly 8)
ZIP CODE:  85003

Pattern Recognition is major new work of public art in the lobby of the Phoenix Forensics Crime Laboratory, located on the southeast corner of 7th Avenue and Washington Street. Created by Massachusetts artists Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schechter, the artwork is a surrealistic chandelier that pays homage to the art of forensic science.

Held together by an anarchic armature of steel rods and laboratory clamps, the artwork contains hundreds of glass beakers, flasks, test tubes, pipettes and other elegant tools of the forensics trade.  Interspersed among this array of real-life equipment are scores of artist-made forms, among them molecular models of drugs, fingerprints, DNA strands, implausible conflations of lab glass, pop cultural references to police work, and over 130 magnifying glasses.

Approximately 10 feet in diameter and 18 feet high, the piece is suspended from the lobby ceiling by forty posts at the base of which are backlit Petri dishes holding graphic references to the lab's investigative specialties, as well as additional LED's.

The work's title, Pattern Recognition, describes a common and recurrent theme in scientific investigation. As the title suggests, the artwork itself is a mystery to solve.  Seen from the side and from an adjacent balcony, it appears to be a chaotic array of unrelated parts. From directly below, the overhead cluster of colors, forms and lights falls into a clear concentric pattern of imagery depicting the clues that forensic scientists encounter in the course of cracking criminal cases.
The dynamic between frenzied and orderly viewpoints serves as an esthetic metaphor for the lab's mission, where in the applied study of human pathology specialists share expertise in the course of evolving a comprehensive understanding of crime.

The artists worked with the Police Department and Durrant, the building architect, to integrate their work into the design of the building. The Forensics Lab public art project was developed as part of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture's Public Art Program. It was made possible by Police Percent for Art funds.