Simultaneous and Simple Actions at the World Expo- Laray Polk and Brian Kane & Michael Oatman

When asked why they made the decision to visit the World Expo, the majority of the people that People In Space met answered that they wanted to experience the “spectacle”. Infinite lights, color, sound, copious space, the abundance of Haibao, the Expo’s absurd “imaginary” mascot made the expo, indeed, spectacular. The surrogate performances that People In Space chose to implement were not spectacular. They were minimal actions that became buried underneath of the dazzling marvels that only the World Expo could provide. This presented both challenges and immense opportunity. Although incongruous within this environment, these actions offered a familiarity for those who experienced them. This seemed to create a sense of relief for Expo goers amongst the lavishness that we had all found ourselves immersed in.

Through word of mouth we quickly learned that the Saudi Arabia Pavilion was a favorite with its promise of exoticism. Its daunting waiting line consisted of thousands. There was heightened security through guard presence and intimidating barricades. On our last day implementing performances, we decided to venture into the line in the early evening. We were unable to enter the line due to the multitude of people who were already present. This gave us the chance to implement performances along the perimeters of the line and offered the opportunity to create actions simultaneously.

Laray Polk and Brian Kane & Michael Oatman @ People in Space from The Present Tense on Vimeo.

Laray Polk is a multimedia artist and writer who lives in Dallas, Texas. Upcoming projectsinclude Schrödinger’s Cat, an installation, at the FMOD (Free Museum of Dallas) in October. Her articles have appeared in print in D Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and In These Times and online at Common Dreams, CounterPunch, Pacific Free Press, Sri Lanka Guardian, and Znet. Areas of interest include communication theory, media, politics and language.

Brian Kane and Michael Oatman have collaborated for 25 years in a wide range of media, from paintings made under the name of a fictitious artist, Robert MacKintosh, to video works, performances and drawings.  Meeting at the Rhode Island School of Design as undergraduates in 1983, they realized a shared sensibility around consumer culture, and initiated ARTZAK, a tactical media art collaborative that placed fake products in stores, filmed commercials for those products, and produced (arguably) the first infomercial, “The Leisure Channel”, a late-night cable show broadcast on Channel D in New York City.  This is their first project in China.

Kane went on to work as Creative Director in several industries, producing computer generated holograms, broadcast game show animations and later collaborating with artist Chico McMurtrie’s Anamorphic Robot Works.  He has designed and produced numerous online properties for PBS,, Harrah’s and other global brands.  His 2010 exhibition at Mason and Dine Gallery, in New York. featured recent iPad apps, digital prints and editioned objects.

Oatman’s large-scale installations, collages and videos have been widely shown inNorth America.  He has been a teacher for the past 25 years at Harvard, RISD, The State University of New York, The University of Vermont and Renssealer, where he teaches in the School of Architecture.  He is currently working on an exhibition for the High Line in New York City, and his MASS MoCA commission, “All Utopias Fell”, opens in late October, 2010.  It will remain on view for 10 years.

Lucas Murgida @ Contaminate II

Lucas Murgida created the first part of this piece for Contaminate II as part of his Locksmithing series.  The following text was given to the audience at the event:

“The Locksmithing Institute of Contaminate Lesson #7: Willful Disappearance
In lesson #7 the students of “The Locksmithing Institute of Contaminate” will be instructed in the ancient locksmithing technique of disappearance.
First, to understand this concept better we must broaden our definition of keys. All of the people, ideas, things and places in our life are keys. All of these allow us to enter or exit certain physical and mental spaces. Most keys unlock our feelings of safety. They do this by permitting us access to ideas that we associate with our sense of security. Some examples of these are: homes, cars, favorite cookies, or relationships to loved ones. When a person loses their keys typically they panic. This reaction and attachment implies that one cannot manifest their own feelings of security without their keys. Suffering stems from this attachment. This is because we have great difficultly imaging what existence might be like without keys acting as our filter.
In lesson #4 of “The Locksmithing Institute” students were taught how to find their lost keys. This lesson arose from the observation that even the best locksmith can only make someone a new set of keys. Though this is a good service it fails to restore the sense of security that a persons old key afforded them. In the end people don’t want a new set of keys. They want their old keys back. From there, students who enrolled in “Lesson #5” were taught how to change their relationship to their keys. To do this a furnace was constructed. Next, the students were given the opportunity to place one of their keys in the furnace. The molten metal that remained was then poured it into a new, abstract form. It was still their same key, only their relationship to it had changed. In “Lesson #6” students were given the chance to lose their keys of their own free will. By choosing to do this (as opposed to accidentally doing it) students took another step towards developing their own feelings of security separate from their keys.
Those three lessons of “The Locksmithing Institute” dealt with, at their core, matters of “perception”. More specifically they are about things moving in or out our frame of reference. This has less to do with ones physical eye and more to do with the “minds eye”. The standard association that is placed upon the word “disappearance” is that something is gone and it’s where a bouts is unknown. However the simple meaning of the word is that something is no longer within our “sight” or to ceases to “appear” before us. “Appear” is strongly linked to the present tense. It is something that is occurring even as we are perceiving it. “Disappear” is no different. It is something that is happening in the present that we are connected to. Something that is always in the process of occurring.
To explicate this point Instructor Lucas Murgida will give an example of this in “Lesson #7”. On Friday March the 9h of 2007 he will be giving each of the students of Contaminate copies of the keys to his apartment in San Francisco. At approximately 6:00 PM EST on March 14th upon returning from Boston, Murgida will be locked out of his apartment. For Murgida the keys are not gone, they are simply out of sight. For the students Contaminate “Lesson #7” is occurring but it is not within their sight. There are many things that we are intrinsically connected to that our perception is incapable of detecting. When events or keys slip out of our frame of reference they are become endowed with other worldly ability it exist long past their life ever would have permitted. Because of this “Lesson #7” will always be occurring. This is the embedded significance of disappearance. It is the transcendence of the moment.“

Click here to see documentation of the completion of this piece!