Thursday was the opening of our MFA show. That i’ve had time to catch my breath, I have a couple reflections on the opening to post. Soon I will upload the new work to my website. But for now, you can get a pretty thorough sense of the work from the Instructables.com posts I made, as part of the piece (and exhibited in the gallery).
Sigh Collector is here.
Pacing Track is here.
From my last review, I narrowed down some decisions, added some aspects, abandoned others.. I focused more heavily on sculptural detail and design; ultimately I rebuilt most of what I showed last. I think the changes will be evident in the work itself, so I won’t go into detail.
First of all, I was alarmed and very pleased by how quickly the work has been received online. I published the page at some point during my last all-nighter while installing the show. After a brief and unsatisfying sleep before the opening, I woke to find that the work was already featured in the front page of Instructables and had been blogged and emailed to me by various people. The comment streams were basically in line with what I had anticipated and hoped for: some technical advice, suggestions, questions, some confused people, some people who understand that it is a work of art / critical design. I hope that this trend continues. At this point the Sigh Collector is more popular online; maybe this means people identify more with sighing habits that pacing habits?
I understand better now, the separate and interesting differences between the work’s “life” online and in physical space. What I attempted to do in the gallery was exhibit the work next to the documentation (in the form of instructional material), in the hopes that the hyper-context would be constructed in the viewer’s imagination. The context of the exhibition, however, was one of expected immediacy and visual feedback. I found that far less people focused on my written material and explored the websites (I had some context writing on the wall by the name tags too). Therefore, much of the context and back story were lost to the general public. Furthermore, my choices in exhibition design seemed to communicated interactivity when the Sigh Collector, for example was only on display. I had the inflating air bladder replaying live data from a day of my own sigh collection. The final result was far too subtle for a public exhibition and people where confused about the relationship between the two objects. One overly enthusiastic gallery visited wound up snapping chest band clear in half, at the stretch sensor connection point. So that was that…
The track was “live” for the show, and able to be walked on. I really enjoyed how by the end of the night it was covered in foot prints and therefore communicated used-ness far more convincingly. Again, however, the subtle connection between the yarn dispenser and the track was a bit lost. One visited tugged on the string as though he expected something to happen, and this tangled the yarn up pretty badly. The yarn began winding upwards, which I rolled with and happily entertained new and interesting interpretations from the audience.
Overall, I was happy with how the work turned out, but I was disappointed by my final exhibition design and all the discrepancies. I want the documentation to be more apparent in the space, and not as hidden in the instructions, so I may include monitors or a projection, explicitly showing the video. We’ll see.
The final resting place for the work, however, which is usually the web, seems to be the most logical place for me to exhibit my work in the end. Not sure how I feel about this. I’m excited by the possibilities of bridging the gap between the educational community, the online open-source community (commenting, adding, editing, etc) and the gallery space. Though I feel that I fell short of bridging this gap, I’m happy that I at least alluded to it.
I may post more on these thoughts later on, as they develop. Could be an interesting starting point for some writing.