OPERANT (An Oldowonk Cataract) - CODAworx

OPERANT (An Oldowonk Cataract)

Submitted by Karl Unnasch

Client: The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

Location: Boston, MA, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $60,000

Project Team


Karl Unnasch

Public Art Agent

Lucas Cowan

The Rose Kennedy Greenway


The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a mile-long park winding through the heart of downtown Boston which was created when the elevated highway was demolished and rerouted into a tunnel underground. This mixed-media installation based on a red dump truck acknowledges Boston’s “Big Dig” construction workers and laborers while celebrating the concepts of ‘building’ and ‘making’ in its stained glass imagery.
Materials: Reclaimed dump truck, stained glass, steel, LED lighting, tchonk glass
Year: 2019
Dimensions: 17’x9’x26’


The theme for the temporary installation was “The Auto Show”. With this in mind, Karl intended to repurpose some form of construction equipment as a key work of art. After a short span of conversations with Public Art Curator Lucas Cowan, it was decided to reference a tribute to Boston’s Big Dig project which paved the way for the Rose Kennedy Greenway to come into fruition. The red dump truck was a perfect “vehicle” for the narrative that payed tribute to the work and workers that were vital to the project. As a nighttime beacon, the final stained-glass accoutered sculpture glows with the help of LED lighting systems for 24-hour visibility to the passing public.


Karl was approached by Greenway Public Art Curator Lucas Cowan to bring a project to the show that would reference the Big Dig project that essentially “paved the way” for the Greenway Conservancy to become a reality. It was with the help of hometown neighbors in Pilot Mound, Minnesota that Karl was able to procure and recondition the dump truck into a workable and more-polished version of its former self.

Additional Information

Backlit stained glass panels installed in the cab and along the sides of the dump box contain imagery suggestive of the continuum of concepts influencing the human-built environment. The foundations for problem-solving are innate; hence, the panels depict various forms of Nature's approach to 'building' and 'making'. Yet, subtly threaded throughout the imagery, whispers of heuristics and artificial intelligence hint at the contemporary end of the spectrum. Finally, a cascade of chunk glass – reminiscent of flinty, primordial tools – has the appearance of being dumped from the back of the truck, eliciting the possibilities of design and construction.