The Atlas of Tomorrow

Among the many aspects that determine our overall health, emotional wellness is often neglected and taboo to discuss. What if tools to improve our mental health were embedded within the city’s fabric for the public good? One tool that has helped Chang and many others is the I Ching, an ancient text that provides practical wisdom which can be applied to any situation. Inspired by the I Ching, the work of Carl Jung, and the tactics of the Surrealists, The Atlas of Tomorrow: A Device for Philosophical Reflection is an interactive mural that offers a contemplative tool for self-examination. Passersby are invited to consider a situation in their lives where they seek clarity and spin a six-foot dial to select one of the sixty-four fables along the wall for poetic guidance. The stories and artwork evoke an inner world of archetypes that can help us examine our struggles, behaviors, and opportunities for growth. By reflecting upon this “town in our head,” we might gain new perspective on the role we play in our relationships with others, as well as our relationship with ourselves.

Designed with the idea of art as meditation, The Atlas of Tomorrow consists of over 200,000 dots that were finger painted by Chang and the Philadelphia community. Each dot is a finger print, a primal mark that converges into a larger image and speaks to value of new perspectives. By injecting a device for personal reflection into the public realm, The Atlas of Tomorrow reimagines what a mural can do, offers a stepping stone to other mental health services, and promotes emotional wellness as a critical component of thriving communities. Concept and artwork by Candy Chang; stories written by James A. Reeves. A collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, and Broad Street Ministry. The project is featured in the exhibition By the People: Designing a Better America at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum from Sep. 30, 2016 through Feb. 26, 2017.

“Chang’s adaptation of the I Ching taps into the spiritual and encourages pedestrians to take a philosophical pause, as each fable’s archetypes highlight our common humanity.” —Public Art Review Magazine 

2016, Philadelphia, PA (533 South Juniper Street at South Street). Acrylic, polytab fabric, aluminum, stainless steel, high-density polyethylene, 33’9″ wide x 31’7″ tall. Interactive dial design and fabrication by New American Public Art. Project management by Dave Kyu, Laure Biron, Evan Thornburg, and Jessica Lewis-Turner. Assistance by James Shuster, James Burns, Kien Nguyen, and Adam Alli.

Spinning the dial. Photo by New American Public Art.
Candy Chang and James Shuster experimenting with painting methods. Photo by James Burns.
Chang and the Philadelphia community finger painting the mural at Broad Street Ministry. Photo by the Mural Arts Program.
Finger painting the mural. Photo by the Mural Arts Program.
Chang installing the mural with James Shuster. Photo by Adam Alli.
Photos by Candy Chang unless credited otherwise