Rebecca Scheckman @ Rough Trade

3-4 times per year the planet, Mercury, slows down and appears to stop and move backwards. Mercury has been in this state of retrograde since September 7th. Because Mercury rules communication, it is said that retrograde causes all matters of interaction to go bananas until the planet is back on track (September 29th). Some people find that their computers go on the fritz, phones act peculiar, and overall technical difficulties abound.
A recent reminder from my “private witch,” Bradley Benedetti explained that in addition to Mercury being in retro, on the 15th Saturn AND uranus opposed the sun, and Mars is in full swing, an occurrence most astrologers cannot remember the last time this happened. The new moon then enters Virgo at the end of the month, throwing everything off.

I am not an expert in astrology by any means, however I cannot ignore the chain of events that have awarded these claims their validity. I have had difficulty with my email, both my home and work refrigerator have had trouble during this time, and the MEME gallery’s website got hacked this week. The list goes on, but I will get to my point….While my life and the lives around me go haywire, I think that this is the universe’s way of telling us all to pause and shift our own paradigm.
Every time Mercury goes into Retrograde, I am reminded of my own dependence on technology and I try to remember a time without the instant gratification of the internet, cell phones, and other modern devices. I try to remember a time when face to face interaction was the only way to relate to another human being and when decoding the tone of an email or text message was an unfathomable and unnecessary skill.
All of this fondly reminds me of the biggest technical disaster The Present Tense has encountered, to date. In 2007, we invited Rebecca Scheckman, a former Boston artist, to participate in Rough Trade, an artist exchange we organized with Chicago-based artist, Joseph Ravens. Rebecca had prepared an elaborate piece that created a dialogue about intimacy and technology. One by one, the audience would enter a small white cube she created from fabric. They would sit on a comfortable chair, as Rebecca sat facing them with another piece of fabric hanging between the two. On a table next to the audience member there sat a plexi glass box that had a camera inside. Rebecca had one as well. Both Rebecca and the audience member would make out with the camera and the image of the insides of their mouths would be projected on top of each other on the sheet hanging between them. This would create a unique image of “the kiss,” a popular artist’s subject.
Regardless of the hours of set-up and multiple tech checks, Rebecca’s piece fell apart 20 minutes before Rough Trade’s opening. Her computer crashed and there was no reviving it. Rebecca had the potential to surrender to technology’s cruel prank, however, she used a video camera as a vessel to capture her kisses. She walked through the gallery, asked people to kiss her, and the audience was able to view the internal kiss on the LCD screen of the camera. She carried a roll of plastic wrap with her, creating a dental dam to protect the camera lens as she kissed each person.

As I ponder the powers of the zodiac, I remember Rebecca’s ability to think on her toes to save her piece. I am filled with infinite hope that we all will survive the chaos.

In the spirit of this post, these are the only 2 photos that exsist of this piece.