Live video projection working with a series of different musicians. Presented at St. Patricks Old Cathedral, New York, City. This was part of “FlashLight” an event put together by Nuit Blanche New York, in conjunction with the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City, May 7th, 2011
This was a kind of visual jazz style improvisation in which I pre shot content at the Cathedral, and then mixed it live along with video from a live camera, to create a set of moving images in time to the music, and evoking qualities in each of the musical compositions. The visuals were projected on a huge screen stretching across the the altar area. Content included close ups of stained glass, and of architectural details of the church itself. The live video mix was accompaniment to the following music:
Aaron Siegel – Common Tones
One of the fundamental elements of musical counterpoint is the idea that movement from one chord to another is facilitated by the presence of some of the same material in both chords. Common Tones explores this idea using a limited amount of information deployed slowly over the course a performance. The structured improvisation will be performed by Basilica Music Director, Jared Lamenzo.
Matt Marble – Way Up in the Middle of the Air
Way up is a work of scored improvisation for organ + ensemble (trb, bsn, acc, 2 b., & prepared synth). Inspired by Ezekiel’s fantastic vision in the Old Testament, wherein he sees 4-headed cherubs tied to crystalline gyroscopes, all supporting the glass throne of a divine chariot… way up is a sonic meditation on the vehicle of ascension. Simply put: Dream on & Levitate.
Pilottone – Flash:Remix
Pilottone will present a performance and intervention in which the group will stage and remix… as they repurpose sounds collected earlier in the evening during the Festival of Ideas.
Collaboration with Hahn Rowe, 2010
Live, dual screen video projection onto architectural surfaces behind the musicians. Presented at The Stone, New York City, With Hahn Rowe and Ha-Yang Kim.
I worked with the idea of music as mathematics. This was a kind of visual jazz style improvisation in which I brought in a limited amount of pre shot content, and then mixed it live along with video from two live cameras, to create a set of moving images in time to the music, and evoking qualities in each of the movements of the musical composition. Inspired by the fact that Han is of Korean descent, I also used images of driving through the Korean countryside for one of the movements.
Fifteen minute long, black and white line drawing on video, first presented as part of the group exhibit entitled “Selfish”, at Gallery 128, New York City. The piece created for this group exhibit about self portraits.
Photo Documentation and video stills:
The work was recorded live with the filters which were “drawing” the video and being manipulated live in real time. it plays with the idea of what drawing constitutes in contemporary digital society and of course makes playful reference to Andy Warhol’s 1968 quote that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
You Are Here - architecture, retail, and locality: an art installation and live audio/video performance contemplating the neighborhood of SoHo and the nature of shopping and retail design, created for the Diesel Denim Gallery, a clothing store where 70% of the space is devoted to the presentation of art, and which is located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.
There are seven basic elements of the installation:
1. Foam Core Wall:
A 40 foot long by 12 foot high fake wall built from 1/2″ Foam core. It is a one to one scale replica of the actual wall opposite to it, but in mirror image. The wall promotes the idea of the store existing as much in the design phase as a foam core white model as it does in the “real” phase. The mirror image is also a kind of reference to the mental inversion of the “Gruen Transfer”.
2. Floor Sticker:
The 22 foot long vinyl floor sticker with a red dot and the phrase “You Are Here” refers to both the placement locator help found on maps in public spaces, but (like the foam core wall) also serves to suggest that the shoppers are not in an actual space but a space modeled around them and to control them. As though they are ant sized in a model box designed to look like a store. The fact that part of the sticker seems to be sitting underneath the actual brick interior wall of the store serves to further dematerialize the structure.
3. Plexiglas Plaques:
Six hanging C prints on plexiglas 32″x48″ which contain elements of text, and when taken together say the following: “Shopping can be a disorienting experience. Have we found the right place to fulfill our dreams? Where are we in socio-architectural terms when we are in Soho shopping? You are Here.”
4. Clothing rack hanging Plaques:
1/8 inch thick, 24 inch by 30 inch mat white plastic plaques, designed to hang among the clothing that was being sold. These are intended to be roughly the same size as the garments themselves and are hung on hangars, just like the clothing. Text written in black marker in Seven different languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Korean, gives pointed information about the historical development of retail architecture and the effects on shopping. (This turned out to be a particularly effective intervention in that Soho is filled with tourists and with so little support in the US for foreign visitors, they strongly gravitated to, and took interest in, something written in their native language.)
5. Map of retail development and in-store design:
A 73 inch wide by 77 inch high hanging map printed on the vinyl used for architectural “building wraps” (the very large scale billboards on the exterior of buildings) displaying visual details about the interior and exterior of the store, details about the individual interventions in the installation, text info about the neighborhood and the history of shopping, and time lines for the Evolution of Retail Mechanisms, Retail History, and the Diesel Denim Gallery. Important developments such as Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, and the first know use of mannequins are noted. The history is tracked into possible futures including synthespian sales staff.
6. Satellite view of the store with data overlay:
Hanging print of Satellite view of the neighborhood along with data overlay relating to retail space use in the neighborhood of Soho.
7. Interactive 3D Fly through:
A computer and projections at the back of the store, behind the foam core wall containing an interactive 3D fly through of the store with slabs floating in space giving information on everything from the number of daily visitors to the store, to the amount of air that passes through the air conditioning system each month.
8. Video projection:
Video projection from three projectors, of the video collage made during the live mix performance, Which included a walk and drive through of SoHo, close ups of design details about the store, text on retail Design, live video of the audience in the space, and 3d fly through of the info time lines.
When I was first approached by curator Sebastien Agneesens about the possibility of creating a work for the Diesel Denim Gallery I thought, what kind of artwork could possibly stand up to the retail environment and not get eaten by it, not turn into advertising for the products around it? I decided the only likely work would take on the structure of retail architecture itself, as a subject, and though it would still be ground up and consumed, it might transmit its meaning virally in the process.
As is pointed out in the brilliant and encyclopedic tome “The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping”, shopping is everywhere these days. The museum, the airport, the nightclub, the university. Shopping is blending with or replacing, almost every kind of urban activity and has become one of the main ways we experience life in a city.
Though shopping is one of the most temporary and unstable types of urban activity, contemporary cities are attempting to use it as the main building block or foundation for civic life. Shopping is not a viable alternative to fundamental communal activities and services, because it doesn’t necessarily last. Shopping has a vital place in society but should not be made to do the job of institutions.
Shopping architecture is cheaply made because like fashion it must constantly change. Buildings can last for 5000 years, but shopping architecture is currently typically viable for only about 3 years before it must be completely transformed into something new.
The timeline for retail development is so brief that stores go from model to completion to obsolescence in almost no time at all. Retail architecture is ephemeral, lasting a brief moment. Existing as much in the design and model phase as in the actualized phase, the store itself is there for such a brief time in historical terms as to make it like a momentary reflection, like a model, hardly real.
Even when realized, retail architecture is often so cheaply built as to be a facade. Like a Hollywood back lot. Like a movie set.
The store exists as much as data as it does as physical building materials. Realtime information tracking, computer modeling of consumer behavior, constant monitoring of shoppers through multiple forms of surveillance media. The store as a virtual and data construction is much larger and more real in some ways than the puny physical location. Even the idea of “brand” and the projection of brand out into the world as advertising can be considered part of the virtual extension of a store.
But the physical locale has its advantages and has a depth and breadth unknown to the virtual trackers. The window washer who wants to address issues of race with passers-by. The gum on the sidewalk that records a trace of the life of a breathing person at this locale, the stone, the iron, the rain on your face. The beauty of being alive in the present moment.
Shopping spaces are designed to delight, but also to confuse and mesmerize. In retail architecture huge amounts of time, money, and research is devoted to this. Scripted disorientation is used to actively confuse shoppers so that they become more susceptible to making impulse purchases. The Gruen Transfer, (named for the first shopping mall designer,) is a psychological state where movement slows, eyes glaze over, jaws slacken and the mind temporarily ceases to function properly because it is experiencing too much input. The exact distance in feet and the number of seconds it takes to induce this debilitated state is actively measured in contemporary retail design.
In ancient times there was a market outside the borders of the city. People went there to exchange goods. There was no buying and selling organized inside the town. In the current era shopping is one of the major forms of urban activity. Imagine a modern city where there was no shopping. What kinds of activities would you do in a city like that? What would be important? What would you care about and devote time to? What might constitute meaningful civic and urban interaction?
Shopping, like advertising can’t simply be discontinued because it is being used in contemporary society to fill deep seated needs, and there are currently few social structures to replace it. If we at least begin to become aware of the lengths to which designers go to alter our consciousness as we go about the process, then we can begin to shape our own outcomes from the experience.
Toward this goal, the project records, through multiple forms of digital media, the local environment in the neighborhood surrounding the gallery. It gathers, in this case, intimate details of life in Soho, New York. In addition it creates an architectural and mediatic intervention into the actual space. Research on the historical development of retail, information flows, the nature of shopping and the meaning of place is presented in dynamic visual, audible, and textual form, heavily layered and worked.
Media forms include a stripped back 3D computer model of the entire store with text replacing products, a 3D data map of retail and shopping, satellite photographs, digital video, still photography, and audio samples. All these mediatic elements are combined in an A/V performance work created live, in the gallery, and then subsequently on display for the duration of the installation.
Shopping can be a disorienting experience when we are offered so many possibilities regarding place, design, and personal style. Have we found the right place to fulfill our dreams? Where are we in local, architectural, geographical, virtual, and cultural terms when we are wandering around in Soho, shopping? The project gathers the mediatic traces, then lays it all out for you. At the Diesel Denim Gallery – YOU ARE HERE
Concept and realization: Paul Clay with curator Sebastien Agneesens
Live Video Mix:
Video – Paul Clay
Audio – Arrow Chrome
3D Data Mapping: Jose Salinas, Architect, founder of Knobs Design
3D Animation: Paul Clay, Willyum Delirious, Jose Salinas
Publicity for Fictive: Berit Fischer, Naiying Kuo
Installers for Fictive: Julie Allen, Mark Power, Chang-Jin Lee, Yukiko Hayakawa
Translations for Hand Written texts: Jose Salinas, Yukiko Hayakawa, Sebastien Agneesens, Berit Fischer, Julie Allen, Chang-Jin Lee
Curated by: Sebastien Agneessens – Formavision
Special thanks to all the people at Diesel, from those at the top who approved this thing to those who did publicity, install, letting us in after hours, and supporting us as we did the work. You made this event possible. Thank You.
You are Here is a project of Fictive, a loose constellation of multi-disciplinary art creators, and a kind of fictional arts collective founded by Paul Clay and composed of whoever happens to be working on aproject at any given moment.
A one hour long live video mix performance which contemplates the meaning of locality and place in contemporary society, presented first at Magazin 4, Breganz, Austria, and then as part of the 10 year anniversary of the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
Imagery and sonic details of the local space are meticulously recorded. This includes everything from stair rails, handles, and window joinery, to snippets of street conversation. Following this details of the street level built environment in the city and the surrounding vicinity of the place to be contemplated are documented. This imagery is then mixed live in real time on the evening of the performance, along with live cameras, text about place and architecture, and performative elements evoking the nature of recording, inscription, and display.
Despite its use of carefully gathered documentary detail, the live mix and filtering process attempts to devalue contentism or focus on narrative elements. Instead it evaluates the raw visual and aural content, and reconfigures this to tell its own story, more as nonfigurative painting is understood to convey meaning. Multiple simultaneous video projections created by mixing a host of inputs including videotape, infrared cameras, and computers are employed. The work brings the energy and structures of the club and alternative happening scenes into play with a slightly more contemplative and philosophical approach to generating meaning. The work is an attempt to use the current tools available in new media to explore the age old question of what it means to be, to inhabit.
The work also has a strong ludic component. A reshaping of the interaction of the individual with the environment – not following a normal culturally dictated path or set of instructions. Not even directly accomplishing a culturally prescribed or proscribed goal. Discovering. playing. Like a Trickster figure, the artist comes to your “place”, like the very first human being, like the character of Coyote in Native American myth, loving life, sharking around and looking for things, not following the rules or even aware of them, gouche and unschooled, what does he see? What gets recorded? What can be revealed? …and then there it is, its all on display. Displaced and played with. Creating a sacred event or performance, a celebration, where the core qualities of a place may by chance be revealed. Dis-Play.
Some Background Theory about Dis-Play
How natural and man-made places embody meaning – the spirit of place:
“There was a house made of dawn. It was made of pollen and of rain, and the land was very old and everlasting. There were many colors on the hills, and the plain was bright with different-colored clays and sands. Red and blue spotted horses grazed in the plain, and there was a dark wilderness on the mountains beyond. The land was still and strong. It was beautiful all around.” – N. Scott Momaday
Native American plains peoples have a huge respect for land and place, born partly out of harsh environment, but much more from thousands of years of tradition. They understand the value of knowing a place through deep lived experience. We, also, can feel deep meaning in volume and expanse in the natural environment. Everyone who has been to mountains, deserts, forests, and oceans knows this on a visceral level.
In addition there are small localized physical forms in the land which bespeak place on a gut level. In Iceland there is a belief that “Hidden Men” or spirits exist in places that have a special character. Roads get built around significant boulders or depressions in the environment lest the spirit of the place be disturbed and cause bad luck. Why is this the case? Simple-minded folk tradition? Maybe not.
We can feel the specialness of the place around the boulder, and if it is removed the valuable experience is gone. The feeling IS a manifestation and can be understood as the spirit of the place. Removing the boulder disrupts the spirit, with grave consequences for those who will have an emptier life as a result of its loss. The mystical invades directly into our 21st century experience. As film director Hal Hartley put it after shooting there: Try to use the rules of what you believe. In Iceland, they don’t apply. You can attempt to fight the volcanoes, the ice, and the sea – but you will not win. These things have a truth far beyond our meager knowledge.
Aboriginal peoples in South Asia carry a sacred stick with them as the community travels from place to place. They understand the stick they carry as a direct connection between heaven and earth, and that the stick is at the center of the world, or rather, IS the center of the world. The center shifts and travels with them as they go. They are always in the spiritually vital center place.
Similar spatial meanings to those we experience in the natural environment are also conveyed to us, in varying degrees, through architecture – but in the case of architecture we are making the boulders and sticks.
Architecture as natural human excretion:
James Turell once said to me he thought people were much like hermit crabs. Having no shell of their own, but needing one always, they would go from one empty shell to another as they go about their business, home, to car, to building, finding/making new shells and staying protected.
He also said he didn’t believe we had much more control over the urban sprawl of Manhattan, than coral do over the Great Barrier Reef. It is a process we are a direct and active part of, but do-not/can-not control. Architecture is a physical manifestation of our “being” on the earth. The outcome of a system we only think we regulate, an actual material excretion of our collective physical organism, a trace of who we are. What information is contained in that trace? How does how we conceptualize what it constitutes change what it actually is and means for us?
Inhabiting – Home and the center of the universe:
“In every dwelling, even the richest, the first task of the phenomenologist is to find the original shell” – The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard
We can feel the same gut level responses to the volumes of the built environment as those of the natural if we but allow ourselves to be attuned to them. The marking of the passage from the world of the secular to that of the sacred and back again, feeling the little openings onto some other kind of experience, the sense imbued in us by structures and the expression of physical and design forces within them, the reach and extension, the amplitude of a space, the vaulting and volume, the materialization of ideals. Yet, as Bachelard says, conveying the meaning of place is not simply about describing the architecture and built environment of an area, not a kind of travel brochure enumerating the picturesque features. Rather it is about getting down in between the crevices in the cobblestones, the alleys between the sky scrapers, and getting to the liminal core: what does it mean to inhabit, to have a place which is home? What does it mean to be in a place which is yours, or to go to a place that is someone else’s? To navigate memory as well as the physical environment in the street.
Mapping and addressing, limits of the 3D Western perspective:
In the documentation for an artwork Laura Kurgan did at Storefront for Art and Architecture, a GPS manufacturer’s brochure is quoted as saying “GPS receivers are fast becoming small enough and cheap enough to be carried by just about anyone. That means that everyone will have the ability to know exactly where they are, all the time. Finally, one of man’s basic needs will be fulfilled.” Part of the failure of insight on the part of the brochure maker is the belief that dividing everything into a Cartesian grid and plotting points on it constitutes knowledge of place. It is far more than a geographical question. Knowing where you are is not just a matter of orienting one’s self in Western 3D space, but of having a sense of one’s relationship to ones surroundings and the universe. When someone faints and they don’t remember at first where they are, they do not regain an understanding from being told a GPS location, they know as they remember the circumstances of their life up to the present moment.
Screens, Media Networks, virtual architecture, and augmented space:
Answering the question of what place means is further complexified by our current ability to operate telepresently across aural, visual, and textual networks and to be at play in a set of ever shifting data nodes across a variety of fields from geopolitical, to corporate database, to global market.
In order to handle this additional layer of place the developed world is becoming increasingly display-centric. We rely on displays in our phones, PDAs, computers, televisions, cars, digital audio players, and domestic appliances to help envision, direct and control the necessary flows of data. These aspects of place are more and more being integrated into architectural design, so that the design contains both physical and data space. It is currently referred to by a variety of names including Virtual Architecture and Augmented Architecture. It should be noted that this is not a reference to 3D models used as a design guide for building, but rather to screenal and data space directly incorporated into the finished architecture. A new part of the built environment.
As Lev Manovich notes in his The Poetics of Augmented Space: “Going beyond surface as electronic screen paradigm, architects now have the opportunity to think of the material architecture they are normally preoccupied with, and the new immaterial architecture of information flows within the physical structure, as one whole…the design of electronically augmented space can be approached as an architectural problem.” So the question of how data travels and impacts place gets addressed through architecture.
Travel, morals, and cultural flows:
Data isn’t the only thing that travels and effects meaning. The physical movement of people also has a huge impact on place and tradition. There are effects on both those who travel and those who are visited. There is an aspect of societal escape in travel. College kids on spring break in Florida operate on an entirely different set of moral standards than they do at home. There is a traditional Japanese saying which translates something like: “Shameful acts committed away from home may be forgotten.” Travelers, when away from their “place” lose certain cultural restrictions still in force for those who stay at home, because the forces of place no longer hold full sway.
Interestingly, this liminality, disruption, or displacement actually takes place for local residents of a place which is visited. Flows from one way of thinking meet with local internal flows blending or bubbling up in fluid dynamic. The outsiders bring a disruption of world view, a change in the status quo. Local moral and cultural disruptions can occur, a complex combining of things jostled together and not yet sorted out. A sometimes uncomfortable reframing of point of view is forced on all concerned. Many things are kludged on top of each other that exist temporarily or temporally in mixed form – keyed cut and layered on top of each other in crazy, unorganized, not yet properly mediated form – the new world view, not yet sorted, and the liminal areas dangerously exposed. Hidden truths about unquestioned assumptions are brought vividly into focus. Things spiral dangerously out of control only to be brought back into new kinds of patterns. Secret trysts with travelers which go unreported to wives or boyfriends. A longing for the artificially conceived exotic place of the travelers origin, or where they have passed through, and a wish for release from local cultural responsibilities and oppressions. An expansion of who one can be. Real places taking on iconic meanings for visitor and visited.
Tricksters and ludic behavior:
Travelers can take on qualities of the trickster figure from Native American myth. Paradoxically, the trickster helps to define place by failing to follow the normal locally-dictated path or set of instructions. He will not even directly accomplish any culturally prescribed goal. The figure of Coyote is a good example. Typically arriving on the Earth just before the first human beings, he is gross and not yet fully formed. Though utterly uncultured (because he has arrived to invent it) he runs about goofing off and causing problems, a bad boy, but in the process he lays the groundwork for what people will make, and how they will need to behave in order to get along. It is his undirected energy, ludicrous and ludic, which helps define how things should and should not be. A visitor discovering, playing, inadvertently revealing the qualities of culture, and place.
Observation and recording:
For the visitor interested in exploring and capturing these qualities of place, recording poses an interesting dilemma. Recording impacts negatively on ones ability to experience and understand, and yet is vital to help fix the observations one is able to make. Recording, say for example through video or photography, is a very shallow or hollow capturing of the total truth of place. It disrupts the process of actually being there and participating, and in no way comes near to describing the full view of those visited. The camera can’t track back far enough to get the smell and the fact that your daughter skinned her knee here three years ago, or that you secretly dream of owning a house on that hill one day, and in your mind it represents the fulfillment of the life you were meant to have but have not yet achieved. That when you see that tree, or that corner Bodega, you feel a tiny almost buried thrill in your heart because you KNOW you are home. As visitors, we can’t be in the shoes of the people, we can only do “participant observations” from our own perspective.
In attempting to record someone else’s place, one inadvertently gets documentary based on the momentary ephemera of one’s own lived experience. So be it. With luck, one can also capture a bit of the economics and metaphysics of the built environment. What is gum on the sidewalk like? How do traffic systems work. Where should cars stay out of? Where should they stay inside of? What materials are used to build and how do they get joined together? Showing the functioning of contemporary culture on a physical/anthropological level. Again, what are the traces, and how can the more ephemeral meanings which do get recorded in this shallow, pale, or freeze-dried form, be most effectively reactivated and displayed?
Live video mixing, mediatic criteria, and the politics of filters:
Converting media into digital data creates “the unforeseen option of addressing not only images (by frames) but even every single picture element (pixel). Images and sounds thus become calculable and can be subjected to algorithms of pattern recognition – procedures which will “excavate” unexpected optical statements and perspectives out of the audio-visual archive which, for the first time, can organize itself not just according to meta-data but according to its proper criteria – visual memory in its own medium (endogenic).” “not only images become addressable in mathematical operations, but their ordering as well can be literally calculated.” – Wolfgang Ernst, A visual archive of cinematographical topoi: Navigating images on the borderline of digital addressability
Though Ernst is discussing of the philosophy of archives, the algorithms he refers to are exactly what video mixing is based on. Filtration of video signals devalues subject and instead favors formal elements such as volume of luminance, hue and chroma, contrast, and scan line or pixel variation across time. The artificial conceptual structure of line drawing can be applied as filter by selecting edges and augmenting or flattening them. All of the filtering is based on the mathematically analyzed visual properties of the images, on what Ernst calls the genuine “mediatic criteria” of the image.
Visual properties are further complexified by The blending of multiple live video streams so that they mutually infiltrate one another and exhibit permeable boundaries, the primacy of the individual frame broken through keying, cutting patterns, and other algorithmic means of compositing. Paradoxically, this seeming obscuring of the image through manipulation actually opens up a whole range of meaning-generation similar in some way to non-figurative painting. It thus reanimates the ephemeral messages, allowing us to bring them to the fore, and to add depth, to amplify the weak signals, to make these simple things full again, to allow them to be multi-vocal once more. It makes it possible to put back meanings which get lost in the shallow process that video recording constitutes, to reconstitute, and to add new meaning as well.
The meaning of display:
To display is to expose to view or allow to appear, to reveal. It is the presentation of signals or data in visual form, or the physical object on which the data is manifested. Display is a revelation of things which are already there, but need a mechanism, a guide or some letting-loose in order to be fully seen or understood. Video not as screen but as extension, architectural, intellectual, amplified light, but not only in terms of lumens. Amplified across a whole series of Axes, datacly, mediatically, socially, poetically, to reveal not only mass and structure but a narrative of the soul. The screen as gate of heaven, as entry point, passage, membrane, a plane or liminal transition moment onto the sacred beyond. An opening onto, an event horizon.
The sacred and the everyday:
“People sometimes get good at blotting out the sights and sounds and smells around them…perception, when it resurfaces, can catch them by surprise.” – Tony Hiss, The Experience of Place
The possibility of a special encounter, a moment’s awareness, exists at any given instant and can be triggered by encounters with physical places. It’s where these spirits or potential moments of contemplation and awareness reside. In spaces. In localities, in a particular place. A billion little gates to heaven, waiting to be discovered. The values of the sacred reside deep in the heart of the everyday, in the cracks in between categories, in the things we make. the spiritual is directly embodied in physical form in the built environment. It contains our “hidden people”. the extruded aluminum of the prefab window sills in Tokyo or the molded plastic fender of a bus in New York City contain, in physical form, the triggers of familiarity, the qualities of volume and form, the manifestation of the spiritual value of home and place, of our deepest unvoiced feelings. Talismans of the built environment. The hidden can come out and speak to us.
“People tend to suppress that which they cannot express. If an experience resists ready communication, a common response…is to deem it private…and hence unimportant…relatively few works attempt to understand how people feel about space and place, to take into account the different modes of experience (sensorimotor, tactile, visual, conceptual) and to interpret space and place as images of complex-often ambivalent-feelings.” – Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience
With Dis-Play we celebrate the mundane and often overlooked qualities and meanings in the built environment, the things you can’t quite put a finger on. We honor the importance of locality and site, bringing everyday experience to the plane of the sacred and contemplative. Looking at a hand, a brick, a street, a piece of chewing gum, we see the world we have created.
“That’s why we seize the moment try to freeze it and own it, squeeze it and hold it, cuz we consider these moments golden” – Eminem
It is an attempt to get a grasp on, or gain insight into – who we are, to get in touch with ourselves through the portal of architecture and the street level lived experience. Architectural details, interior and exterior elements merge and mutually infiltrate one another, the screen becoming a mediation plane between the secular and the sacred, a permeable membrane our souls can pass through to see beyond the detail – to the whole of the picture of who we are, at this moment, on the planet. What is it that we are? And where are we, not just in the universe, but directly, right now, locally? To define where we are in a way that you can know it, not just conceptually, but on a gut level, in your heart. Like a taste on your tongue. Like a scent memory that takes you right back to the moment. Like a place you know. Like home.
An art runway show featuring a series of artist/designers which included dacron, string and foam outfits designed by Paul Clay, with agency models. Part of the event Culture Jam, Night Owls, New York City.
While working a freelance day job for a professional drapery and rigging company, I ran across a material called Bonded Dacron made from polyethylene terephthalate, a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family used in synthetic fibers.
Dacron is used in upholstery, and looks a little like the fake cotton ball snow used in miniature scenes at Christmas time, but has high tensile strength and resistance to stretching. It is very light weight, can be purchased in bulk in 30″ or greater width rolls, and is approximately one inch thick.
When I was invited to participate in this group exhibit/runway show, I thought Dacron and foam rubber might be interesting sculptural materials to work with. The bulky physical form was a good challenge when trying to create something that could be worn as fashion.
Credits for Fictive’s contribution:
Paul Clay (Designer)
Tsukuru Asada (Photographer)
Christie Dinham (New York Model Management)
Rodger Gary (New York Model Management)
Munyana ( Model)
Tiffany ( Model)
An illusory retail space and lounge environment…experience the joys of actual shopping - without the hassle of having to take it all home.
An art installation and set of performances at the temporary site EXPO | SURE, 242 Elizabeth Street, New York City, presented through the Downtown Arts Festival, in space created by Pompei AD for Levi’s® Vintage Clothing, festival sponsor.
Photo Documentation of Installation:
Video Documentation Stills of Performance:
Fictive Boutique Video Stills:
Fictive Boutique Video Excerpt:
The idea behind Fictive Boutique was to create a fake clothing store where people could “shop” but where nothing was actually for sale – a way of provoking thought about boutique culture and the nature of shopping.
Fictive Boutique occupied the front third of a former retail space in Nolita, procured by the design firm Pompei AD, as a “Pop Up” display space showcasing New York artists. Three projects were chosen with curatorial input from the Downtown Arts festival. The DAF for 1999, and the entire Expo Sure event was sponsored by Levi’s®. The project Fictive Boutique was one of three projects chosen for the exhibit.
In addition to the fake clothing store installation, Fictive Boutique also included a series of live performances in which dancers performed a set of choreographed actions in the “dressing rooms” of the boutique and were captured by multiple video cameras. These video feeds were further manipulated by two VJs, live, in time to music from a dj, and were combined with text about the nature of shopping. A live audience watched the spectacle as it was projected onto the walls of the space.
A few random thoughts: As shopping has become the main form of activity in public space, boutiques in Nolita and the surrounding Downtown area have become a breeding ground for emerging culture. They have begun crossing traditional boundaries of what a store is supposed to do and be, and are creating spaces where creative people come to hang out and exchange the kind of day to day information that, through the process of accretion, actually creates positive growth and change.
Young designer/artists are making small numbers of items, or even one-offs, not solely as a means to generate samples, but as the actual mode of production. This low volume means low profit, especially if the clothing is priced so that like minded individuals can afford it, but the process of making what they love and controlling the content of what is produced outweighs, for them, the drive to purely do business. The argument goes “ignore everything you’re supposed to worry about and make the things you yourself want to see in the world. Opportunities will follow, allowing you to continue.”
Along with this is a radical shift from emphasis on design to emphasis on styling. In Tokyo a great number of contemporary street fashion mags have sprung up because kids are combining elements of clothing from so many different cultural esthetics into a single ensemble, that the process of simply reporting on new designers doesn’t reveal any of this whole alternative cultural aesthetic.
In Italy a new class of design professional- a cross between fashion researcher/color predictor and actual designer is occurring as professionals buy vintage, style it, cut, paste and modify, assign alternate colors through swatching, and then advise clothing companies all the way through the production process. They don’t do fashion sketches, and don’t have final say, yet they are essentially the original authors of the clothing’s aesthetic.
Along with this also goes a general shift from things mass produced back to an appreciation of hand crafted work. As styling begins to have similar weight to design, there is now a new process of using historically iconic, mass produced items, in association with radical craft pieces and young designer’s one-offs to create a look and make cultural statements through clothing. In the current fashion era, people aren’t so ready to let others control what there is to wear. Each individual becomes, in a way, his or her own designer.
Conceived and Produced by: Paul Clay
Choreography: David Neumann
VJs: Paul Clay and Willyum Delirious
Live Performance: Miho Nikaido, Terry Bartlett,
David Neumann, and Yukiko Takagi
Clothing Design: Yukiko Takagi
Interior Design: Paul Clay
The Downtown Arts Festival
Expo | Sure
Levi’S® Vintage Clothing
A Project of Fictive.
Mark Power, Torsten Schneider, Toshimi , Arron
Cantor, Joe Foley, Shelly McGuinness, Clement Remy, Noriko.
Patterns Advisor: Lise Kovar
Levi’s ® Vintage Clothing
Ron, Alison , Michael , Lynn, Laura ,Zoe, Jonathan, Vajra, Henry,
Shannon, and everyone at Pompei AD.
Simon, Craig, and Downtown Arts Projects
Lipe, and everyone at LANGUAGE
Joe Plotkin, and Broadway.net
Peter Scharff and Scharff Weisberg
Shoes for the performance generously donated by:
Norman Smitherman through Suzi Funahara and Antenna 88.
(For more info, Contact # 212.645.0700)
Presented as part of Fashioned, The Runway Show, an art runway show featuring half a dozen artist designers, and which included outfits designed by Paul Clay and Adriana Arenas, presented with agency models. Produced in conjunction with Fashioned, a group show, at White Box art gallery, New York City.
Partial photo documentation of the Fictive section of the runway show:
Polaroids of Fictive model try-ons and dress form work:
At the end of an earlier project, Fictive an art and Fashion Event (or Fictive Runway), a number of pieces of women’s fashion crafted from bedspreads purchased in Chinatown were not ready to be exhibited. When approached by White Box to participate in this event, we decided to finish the works and then present them as a “group”, for Fashioned.
These works explored industrially produced off-the-shelf products which still contain some hidden trace of the actual craft objects they were manufactured to replace. It is an attempt to find hidden beauty in things usually dismissed as kitsch.
Conceived and Produced by Paul Clay
Outfits Designed by Paul Clay and Adriana Arenas
Drapery and Pattern making by Lise Kovar
Makeup by Yukiko Takagi
Photography by Tukuru Asada
Fictive Runway, An art and fashion event
A line of fashion made from a wide variety of everyday materials and products. Everything from plastic table cloths, to bed spreads, to children’s jump ropes, gets incorporated into actual wearable clothing. Presented at The Tunnel, 27th Street and 12th Avenue, New York City, Thursday, September 18, 1997. Sponsored in part by the Downtown Arts Festival.
GROUP 1. Six (6) outfits, Plastic Table Cloths/Car Upholstery
GROUP 2. Ten (10) outfits, Curtain/ Mattress Fabric & Digital Prints
GROUP 3. Three (3) outfits, Little girls dresses worn on the front of the body with latex backs
GROUP 4. Three (3) outfits, Jump Rope Dresses
GROUP 5. Three (3) outfits, Rug Stop & Digital Prints
GROUP 6. Five (5) outfits, Bed Spreads from Chinatown
In an earlier age the majority of people on the planet lacked financial resources to buy clothing worn by the upper classes, yet they had traditional clothes made of natural materials, and with the use of generations-old craft techniques and the devotion of time toward the making, they had clothing of great beauty.
With the coming of the industrial age of mass production and global cultural homogenization, many of these traditional techniques got washed away in the flood of inexpensive Euro-american material culture items. As a result most of the poor around the world wear and use cheap synthetic fabrics and products. Things made of natural materials through craft processes are hugely expensive, and only the rich can afford them.
Often the artificial products look like the worst of Western culture, but sometimes these synthetic objects mimic the beauty of the original natural craft products they came to replace. Plastic tablecloths printed or cut with a lace design, machine quilted acetate bed spreads, plastic jump ropes with a cork screw pattern to imitate braiding, all are examples of such products.
Recreated in these new materials they have been read by most arbiters of taste as either undesirable abominations or as interesting kitch objects, but to the people who use them they are not kitch, but rather the most beautiful objects they can afford. Further, despite the apparent loss of local culture, indigenous communities are the ones from which the original material culture arose and so the new cheap synthetic materials sold in these markets eventually begin to absorb and reflect earlier cultural aesthetics which might seemingly have been lost. Cheap everyday synthetic products containing some jewel or trace of little recognized aesthetic value form the basis for this fashion/art project.
The event is in the form of a fashion show with six groups of clothing each based on a different set of everyday synthetic products used as raw material from which to make the clothing. These include plastic table cloths, car upholsteryfabric, curtain and mattress fabric, Little girl’s dresses from 14th st., children’s jump ropes, rug stop (the material put under rugs to keep them from sliding) and quilted acetate bed spreads from Chinatown. Accompanying the show is video art reflecting the aesthetic. The idea is to explore the grace inherent in these materials through the medium of fashion, and to put forward a new set of notions about beauty and elegance by juxtaposing the origins of the materials with the carefully crafted qualities in clothing’s finished form.
It may be made from a plastic table cloth but we hope you’ll wish you could wear it. – Paul Clay ‘97
Conceived and Produced By Paul Clay
Clothing Designed By Paul Clay and Adriana Arenas
Lise Kovar – Draper and Pattern maker
Diego Valencia – Additional Pattern maker
Thomas Miller – Executive Coordinator
Jeannie Yi – Key Coordinator
Reiko Catakura – Illustrator/Coordinator
Naomi Sebu – Additional Coordinator
Frances Sorensen – Make up Concept
David Hicky – Hair Concept
David Newman – Choreography
Rick Murray – Technical Associate
Mike Shlafer & Scott Laully – Set design and technical help
Jamie Leo – Invitation and Program Design
Stephanie Diamond – Assistant to Paul Clay
Lisa Salvador – Assistant to Lise Kovar
Make Up Team:
Liza Zaretsky of Make Up For Ever
Kim Wahmann of Make Up For Ever
Alberto Machuca of Make Up For Ever
Angelrafael Gonzale of Make Up For Ever
Shannon Frank of Make Up For Ever
Make Up provided by Make Up For Ever
David Hicky for Red Salon
Brad Langtry for Red Salon
Gregory Melendrez assistant at Red Salon
Louie and Ashton at Ford Models
Mora at IMG
Nicole, Christian, and Sara, at Karin
Danielle at Make Up For Ever
Brad & John at Red Salon
The Downtown Arts Festival:
New Age Productions:
Make Up provided by Make Up For Ever