If you happened to be in the town of Lubec, Maine
如果在 2016 年 7 月时，
in July of 2016,
you may have seen something a little curious on the horizon
when you looked out across the bay.
on an otherwise uninhabited island,
loomed large black letters that spelled the word "FOREVER."
The sign was 15 feet tall and 50 feet wide,
这个标志高 4.5 米， 宽 15 米，
large enough so that on a clear day, you really could see "FOREVER,"
the word perfectly visible and legible in the distance.
a thick white fog would roll in off the ocean,
erasing the word and the view altogether.
And sometimes, like in this video,
you could barely see "FOREVER" peeking out of the shifting fog,
accompanied only by the rhythmic warning sounds of fog horns.
(Sound of fog horn)
(Sound of fog horn)
It started out as a fairly simple idea,
albeit a little strange,
to put the word "FOREVER" in the landscape
so it could appear and disappear in the fog.
But it took over a year to plan and execute,
and it required the help of so many people,
like the lobster boat captain,
who helped transport all of the materials to the island.
And the volunteers, who helped carry thousands of pounds of wood and steel
to the top of the hill through waist-high shrubs.
"FOREVER" only lasted for three weeks.
So if you're wondering why I did it at all,
as I often did during that process,
it might help for you to know a little bit more about me
and my upbringing.
I grew up in an evangelical Christian family.
And although I'm an atheist today,
I've realized that my religious upbringing
has played a really important role in shaping the person that I've become.
In 1986, when I was five years old,
在 1986 年，我五岁那年，
my parents became missionaries to South Africa.
And that was during the last few years of the apartheid,
so we lived in an all-white neighborhood,
and I attended an all-white public school,
while my parents helped found a multiracial church
in downtown Cape Town.
Because I was so young,
it was impossible for me to understand
the magnitude of what was happening in South Africa at that time.
I witnessed the racism and oppression of people of color I knew and loved
but because of my own skin color,
there was no way I could fully comprehend it.
But I had the privilege to experience, firsthand,
one of the most influential social movements of the 20th century.
And the thing that left a long-lasting impression on me
was how the people I met in South Africa
could envision a better future for themselves and their country.
A future they really believed was possible.
And then they worked together, relentlessly, for decades,
until they achieved that extraordinary historic change.
I was there to see Nelson Mandela released from prison,
我在那里看到了尼尔森·曼德拉 （ Nelson Mandela）从监狱被释放，
and I watched an entire country begin a major transformation.
And that transformed me as a person.
It instilled in me a sense of wonder and optimism
and possibility that permeates everything I create.
I make sculptures like "FOREVER"
as a way of giving physical, tangible forms to language and time.
Those powerful but invisible forces
that shape the way we perceive and experience our realities.
And in doing so, I try to give other people the opportunity
to reflect on their own perception of reality
and inspire them to wonder and imagine
what else might be possible.
I often use signs to do this,
because of how simply and effectively they're able to grab our attention
and communicate information.
They often point out things we would otherwise overlook,
like this sign on the side of the highway in Texas.
They can often signify things that we can't see at all,
like the distance to our destination.
Signs often help to orient us in the world
[You are on an island]
by telling us where we are now
and what's happening in the present moment,
but they can also help us zoom out,
shift our perspective
and get a glimpse of the bigger picture.
Imagine, for example,
you're walking down the street in Philadelphia.
A city in the US that contains so much history,
the birthplace of our constitution.
But imagine you're walking down the street
in an area that's undergoing a huge transformation
due to gentrification.
And as you walk down that street,
you notice something flashing up above you.
So you look up and you see this.
A flashing neon sign that says
"All the light you see is from the past,"
and then "All you see is past,"
before turning off completely for a brief moment.
It asks you to stop and notice
the history embedded in everything that you see.
And it reminds you
that because light takes time to travel across space,
even from just across the street or across the room,
everything you're seeing in the present moment
is technically an image of the past.
Signs influence the way we all navigate the world,
which means they have the ability to create
a collective experience or understanding.
My time in South Africa taught me
that when people are able to find common ground
and work together towards a mutual goal,
powerful things can happen and so much more becomes possible.
And I want to create more opportunities
for people to find that kind of common ground.
I want people to feel the power of collaboration,
sometimes quite literally.
a friend of mine showed me
how our bodies can safely conduct small amounts of electricity.
And if you hold hands with another person,
a small electrical current can pass through your held hands
and become like a switch that can trigger something else to happen.
So last year, I used that form of human connection
to activate an inflatable sculpture.
I put two sensors on a platform far enough apart
so that one person can't make it work on their own.
But when two or more people work together
to complete that electrical circuit,
the inflatable comes to life.
And it begins to fill with air,
and the longer people hold hands, the larger it becomes,
expanding into the words "You are magic."
(Music, birds chirping)
I always love to see
how each group of people finds a different way
to bridge that physical and metaphorical divide.
But as soon as they release their hands and break that connection,
the words immediately begin to slouch and fall over
and eventually return to a lifeless pile of fabric on the ground.
At this moment in time, I think we could all agree
that the future feels pretty bleak and uncertain.
for a brighter, more sustainable, more equitable future
depends first on our ability to imagine it.
But after we imagine it,
we actually have to believe it's possible.
And then we have to find common ground
with people we would maybe otherwise disagree with
and work together towards that mutual goal.
And if we do that, I believe we have the capacity for magic.
So if you can humor me for one more minute,
I'm going to ask everyone in this theater to hold hands.
When was the last time you held hands with a stranger?
And if you feel comfortable,
go ahead and make that metaphorical gesture
of reaching across the aisle.
And after you've held hands with people on either side of you,
if you feel comfortable, please close your eyes.
Now take a minute to imagine what you want,
what you want the future to look like.
And give yourself permission to be at least a little bit idealistic.
What do you want to see change or happen in your own life as an individual?
What do you want to see change or happen for everyone, for the planet?
Can you picture it?
And can you start to see how, if we all worked together,
it might actually be possible?
Now open your eyes,
and let's make it real.