Sunday October 13th, 2019 (rain date: Saturday October 19th)
9:00 am carpool meeting time
We’ll meet at the HILLS MARKET DOWNTOWN, 95 N Grant Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
Hike 10:30-1:30 pm in scenic Appalachia Ohio
Thank you to the Greater Columbus Arts Council for providing support for the field guide zine.
Greetings! If you are Philadelphia this weekend (or, ya know, in the region) I suggest you come check out the Megapolis Audio Festival, part of Fringe Fest. This “delightfully weird” festival features audio walks, installations, workshops, and performances.
I am collaborating with Toby Kaufmann-Buhler on an audio walk titled “Stalking Wild Sounds.” It’s a nod to Euell Gibbons, who was an advocate for wild food foraging and wrote his famous book Stalking the Wild Asparagus in the 1960s near Philadelphia.
Our piece imagines a future where nature has reclaimed the built environment and foraging for food reigns. Participants will use a provided audio player and field guide on a self-guided 30 minute walk. The walk will start at Philadelphia Community Access Media (Philly CAM), go through the formal landscaping of Washington Square Park, and return to Philly CAM. Taking the form of a real-time science fiction, with the sounds of “alien” flora and fauna, the audience will find themselves moving through the city accompanied by the sound work that maps onto their surroundings.
Our event is free and open to the public, during select times, September 16th and 17th. Check out the Megapolis schedule for more info.
The visual deprivation tanks are installed. They are still a work in progress, a baby requires constant care! I have installed a handle and hook inside the tanks so that participants can shut themselves in without an attendant there to lock them in. This will change the entire way people interact with the piece. Having an attendant there is anxiety inducing because people might feel odd with someone hovering. If people have the freedom to come and go they will linger more with the piece which is the goal.
On opening night of our MFA thesis exhibition Ian (assistant) was a space druid usher, letting people into the tanks. “Would you like some booties?” A genius opening line to make people comfortable in the shadow of this intimidating art beast. Since I wanted that night to be a spectacle it made sense. There was a long line of people who increased my confidence. Some people came out of the tanks wanting to meditate longer; others were disturbed by it. Success! Sometimes when I talk with faculty I don’t think they don’t get what I’m doing or even like it very much. Any bit of positive feedback helps.
This is a one minute clip of the sound design. The birds-eye view of the tanks reveal a setup reminiscent of the human head (left ear/head/right ear). The soundtrack is stereo with ‘euphoria’ on the left and ‘dysphoria’ on the right. The center of the tunnel is the crossfade. This clip simulates moving from left to right in the tanks. Using these extremes of sound 1) makes for an engaging soundtrack, 2) references the range of human states of mind, and 3) points to the extreme uses of sensory deprivation (historically, for torture and therapy).
Toby (industrial designer) and I changed the hydraulic lifts so that they match the doors’ weight better. The other lifts were for a door weighing 136 pounds–they were difficult to lift and split the wood on the sides. There is light leakage around the doors. I wanted to see if I could get away with that and be happy. I’m not. The advanced sculpture class that I TA in came by and agreed–for my concept of visual deprivation to heighten the senses I must seal all cracks of light. Greg (assistant) and I are finishing this up Wednesday and then finally I can call it done. Er, ‘done.’
I created visualization cards. Take a look above and try it out! These are inspired by religious ephemera that you find in small town diners and snuck in library books. Usually you see Jesus.
I need feedback on The Way Out community. Does it need a god-like thing to worship, a ‘face’ to the void representing the stuff of the universe? I was thinking of creating something called Space Face, the energy in everything. What do you think?
My thesis paper will be the beginnings of a collage style book I am writing called The Way Out: Tenants, Rites, and Rituals. I will focus on the tenants of The Way Out community in this paper. Here is an idea of what I will do but it’s rough at this point. That should be telling that I haven’t started my paper.
01) Introduction (outline of the project and research)
02) Sensory deprivation –> sensory activation
03) Towards a utopic information system
04) A dismantling of Earth’s surveillance machine
05) Peaceful anarchy?
06) The importance of play
07) Spirituality without restriction (SPACE FACE?)
08) Leaving a small footprint: the cult of nature
09) Social rituals define our human-ness
10) Language with meaning
11) Places and spaces
I will use the framework of new religious movements (Scientology, Mormonism, etc.) but with theories and ideas I believe in. I like the confusion of using their methods and critiquing them simultaneously. Through their methods I gain a respect for them, for their ability to tap into peoples’ psychological needs, even though some have done awful things.
Here’s my artist statement as a reminder of where I am coming from.
The problem isn’t you, it’s Earth. The Way Out is a community we’ve established on the moon in response to our planet’s terminal illness. Earth is a lost cause and living on it leads to permanent brain damage.
The Way Out awakens our senses and deprograms Homo sapiens of neurotic behaviors, freeing us. Our greatest lunar development: specialized deprivation tanks. The sounds emitted in the chambers allow you to reconnect with your body’s primordial reptilian instincts. This is an invitation.
First a question. Is it better to sleep one hour or not sleep at all?
Imagine yourself NOT on Earth. The Way Out is a lunar community we’ve established in reaction to Earth’s harmful ways. The Way Out: Deprivation Tanks are evidence of our revolutionary Earth de-programming techniques. Don’t you want to be here?
The visual deprivation tanks I am building are a small part of a larger concept of a quasi-religious lunar community. Another segment is a book I would like to publish, The Way Out Manual for Living.
I also have a plan for an installation that will be a recruitment room for new members of The Way Out. At a later date I will go into more details about it. I plan to build dioramas of landscapes and fictional buildings on the moon, photograph them, and print them large format. I will make a propaganda video and include a bench so people can sit and soak in The Way Out. There will be takeaways such as brochures.
But now, back to my thesis project.
One tank is done except for touch-ups, the second tank will be done by the end of the week, and the tunnel is coming along nicely. A million thanks to Toby, Greg, & Ian for their help on this. The amount of hours we have spent on my project is making me a little nutty.
Here are some of the guts:
and a finished tank, minus the door:
The hatch doors are also in process. I plan to go to the junkyard this weekend to get 2 sets of hydraulic lifts out of a car trunk so that the doors open slowly and wonderfully. The tanks will be lined with black stuffed body pillows, stuffed so tight as to feel like a solid, undulating foam floor. Even though the sculpture gets the same amount of space on the blog as the other components, it is the sculpture that I have been spending 99% of my time on.
The sound & light:
I recorded the early music vocal ensemble Contrapunctus last Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland. They performed works from the time of Mary Queen of Scots. The ensemble was phenomenal and the cathedral had an absurd amount of stained glass windows. The recording will serve as my base track for the sound design, which I will manipulate and layer with other sounds.
Each tank will have one or two speakers. I will use the same sound palette for both tanks but manipulate them so much that there is a different soundtrack in each tank. As you move through the space you will perceive the interaction between the soundtracks. I am inspired by Dream House in NYC.
The only light in the tanks will be a battery-powered LED light in the center of the tunnel. I will attach it to the top center with a magnet and put a frosted plexi dome over it. I realized I could place the participant closer to where I want him/her to be by making the tanks near-black. The light will just help guide people through the tunnel.
I will likely have an usher at the opening for crowd control. He/she will open the doors of the tanks and wear some sort of space-druid costume I think (or maybe just a white robe). I will also have visualization cards as takeaways. They will have the URL for my website on them (www.findthewayout.org).
I have a question for you. I had a studio visit with Malcolm Cochran. He suggested I include some of my sketches on the wall leading to the tank. I guess he liked them. Here’s why it might be a good idea:
1) At the opening, if people can’t go in the tanks due to crowds they will have something of my work to see.
2) Some people aren’t into “artwork that you have to take your shoes off and climb into” or they are physically unable to.
3) The sketches represent the fiction of it, then you come around the corner and see the object. “Hey, this is a real thing.” I like the connection between the fiction and the fact.
I will probably make new sketches if I do this, but above is an example of a sketch I did that is similar to what I’m thinking.
The Way Out Manual for Living will include the community’s major tenets, a list of The Way Out rites and rituals, images of fictional buildings and spaces (photographs of dioramas, watercolor sketches, and/or collage). This is a project I will start in the summer.
I have been reading about Scientology, est, the Moonies, and other…hmmm…”fringe groups.” Floating has continued to be an influence of course. And then there is Wicker Man (the 1973 version). I just saw the final cut approved by director Robin Hardy. Good god, is there a more perfect movie?
Here is the finished model-minus the doors-for The Way Out, my sensory-deprivation-inspired project. A recap: two tanks that a viewer/participant crawls into via front hatches. The shape of the tanks causes the participant into a supine position. Each tank will contain a contrasting sound/light environment. There is a tunnel connecting the two, acting as a “crossfade.” The intention of the tanks is to activate the reptilian brain, to revive a relationship to senses that humans have lost, to realign faulty instincts. A tall order and I could completely fall on my face. There is a universality in the senses that I am interested in.
And now, some process photos.
The cart of raw materials-lumber and MDF (medium-density fiberboard).
This project has been doomed. We’ve had broken equipment, parts not arrive that have held up the process, bent panels, illness, cancelled flights, days the lab has closed due to weather. Someone told us we need to have a plan B and plan C. Greg responded, “We are on plan R).”
My biggest challenge is the lighting and sound from here on out. Tamara, our thesis writing advisor, reminded me that there is value in paring down, to curate absence instead of presence, to lose the kaleidescopic overload lighting. I need feedback from my colleagues on this.
Here’s what I’m after: