SFMOMA Project Los Altos: A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought Alone

, (2014)

Commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Project Los Altos. Acquired by SFMOMA for their permanent collection.

In his Project Los Altos piece — produced in three different mediums — he returns to this familiar setting, depicting the recent past, the present, and the future of a distinct American enclave through the perspectives of its inhabitants. Mills selected the Costume Bank on State Street as the site of his installation. The forty-year-old community mainstay rents handmade costumes to fund local charities and provides a lesser known perspective on Los Altos beyond its association with Silicon Valley. Interested in the town's slow transition from an agrarian landscape to a bedroom community for tech employees, Mills designed a broadsheet that revisits 1976 — a pivotal year for the town — by pairing an issue of the Los Altos Town Crier with official documentation of the formation of the Apple Computer Company produced the previous week. Today's Los Altos is evident in a rack of eight costumes based on outfits worn by residents of varying ages and standings. And a local view of the imminent future is seen in a video of interviews with children whose parents work in technology. In this three-part work, Mills creates a contemporary chronicle of millennial change, from a region considered the most future-thinking in America at this moment in time.

— Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Associate Curator of Architecture and Design

The Costume Bank of Los Altos was established in 1968 and houses more than 3,000 rentable costumes. The racks are organized by historical decade, and each costume has a label identifying the era it represents. The Costume Bank is operated by the Assistance League of Los Altos, a volunteer-based non-profit organization that has been serving the community since 1960. Mills gathered an outfit from 8 residents of the Los Altos / Silicon Valley region, and had each article of clothing reproduced by Alexenadra Hogge (designer for Objects Without meaning). The "costumes" are the exact size of the original, but only approximate the materials, patterns and detailing of the original. Like memory or the official historical record, the documentation is not a 1 to 1 representation of the orignal. The costumes were placed on a "2010's rack to represent present day life in Silicon Valley. Portraits and biographical interviews accompany the costumes.

Children ages 8-12, whose parents work in the tech industry (Apple, Google, Oracle) were interviewed about the future. What do they think technology, nature, relationships, humans will be like at the end of their lifetime?

The participants included a middle school student, an elderly caregiver, a social media safety analyst, a gardener, an inventor-consultant-entrepreneur, a retired volunteer, and a PhD candidate in political science. Portraits and interviews with each person accompany the costumes.

Imelda Ortaleza, Caregiver at Visiting Angels; Left, her original jacket and on the right the recreated "costume" jacket, featuring similar but not identical patterns.

On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne started Apple Computer Company in the garage of the Jobs family home at 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California. Reprinted in this broadsheet are the Los Altos Town Crier, a locally owned weekly paper, dated April 7, 1976; the original Apple Computer Company logo drawn by Ron Wayne; and the company’s original partnership agreement.

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