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.