Gallery project, interactive, various dimension
24.5. - 3.7. 2022
MEDIUM Gallery Bratislava, SK
Artist: Tomáš Moravanský
The exhibition itself is a kind of maze of interactive storytelling, in a space of 9 medium-sized and small rooms where the visitor‘s body corresponds with the space on the level of basic stimuli or challenges of distance - movement - light / darkness, or sound associations.
The basic motif of the exhibition was the installation of artificial lighting connected to sensors reacting to movement, but realized in a different part of the space than the light itself. The lights and sensors were often placed very far apart. The visitor was thus always in an unlit point within his location, guided by light shafts from other rooms. If the visitors stopped moving, they found themselves in complete darkness after a while. The light installation was choreographed so that at each point in the space the light created an imaginary story of past or future movement as well as a visual composition of lighting. In the event that multiple people were in the gallery at one moment, they could assist with movement or conversely create a different system of light composition. The visitor thus had to learn to adapt to the place, sometimes encountering fears of surprise in the dark.
The exhibition also included a mobile cassette recorder - the audio track of the audio guide - which contained a special cassette tape, modified to play the audio in an endless loop as long as the visitor played it. It contained a woman‘s voice by which the visitor could be guided (or just passively listen to the track). The entire content of the audio recording consisted of the well-known game „you‘re gonna burn!“ when the cues „cold“ or „hot“ are recited. In this case, however, „you‘re going to burn!“ is never heard. Some visitors were fooled by the fake interactivity and searched for a non-existent goal, experiencing disappointment or a sense of satisfaction from inferring their own meanings from the events around them, which, however, was very often just the result of superstition. And this was the case even if it was a sceptically minded visitor.
As the spaces were explored, there was an accentuation of the overlay of the visitor‘s subjective experiences, social customs and personal paradigms in response to the spatial arrangement of light (the presence of an audio guide usually only amplified this for individuals). These surface in the situation, for example, through expressions of superstition, expectation, opinion fixation, or deflections, validation - through the repetition of specific patterns of behaviour; in which it is possible to find certain choreographies and common signs of collective determination, triggered by a sense of disorientation, when negotiating with the reality.
In the space, small objects were inconspicuously placed in several places, „accidentally“ discarded photographs under the radiator or dusty in a dark corner (e.g. of a clown or a pixelated erotic nude), as well as an extinguished candle reminiscent of a memorial altar after a crash (a crash is often caused by disorientation in space). Some considered them as discarded or accidentally forgotten objects - most interestingly some considered them as clues and objects which, as in the game, they should collect in order to solve a kind of puzzle (some decided to solve their version of the puzzle as well, for example by collecting and recomposing these or other objects, which they later wanted to take away as a reward when leaving the gallery). An observant visitor might also notice two larger paintings after a while, one leaning against the wall near the ground, the other installed so high on the wall that one only noticed it on a return trip. Both paintings depicted the same motif, as if they had been copied in a digital environment using copy+paste. It was a pixelated painting of a winter landscape, which, when using the audio guide, could have acted as a real clue and meaning if the word „winter“ just happened to be on the tape when these paintings were discovered.
„There, There“ uses the physical layout of the place to build a choreopolitical system that encourages interaction, much like the limited world of a computer game - an rpg (role-playing game)simulation, but one that can be played endlessly. Visitors, as free beings, enter the space, thus becoming a kind of actors in thegame - revealing and testing the possibilities of the work itself, but also of themselves. It is enough if things like interactive lighting, for example, don‘t work the way we are used to. The situation thus opens up the potential for exploring the autonomy of the visitors, by activating their physical expression towards affect, as a response to stimuli emanating from the space itself, when the space vice versa reacts (or does not react) to them.
The situation sometimes produced the effect of visitors gradually gaining courage in their search for answers and becoming much more curious and brazen, leading, for example, to attempts to open the door of the gallery office. With the other doors locked, the ‚forgotten‘ keys in the lock did not prevent them from turning. In some places there were indeed surprises waiting for the audience - for example, there was specially placed almost blinding lighting in the toilet area, but the only time one had to manually turn on the light was when using a cubicle). There were even attempts to see if dead electrical switches accidentally triggered something (for example, a small red light on the ceiling in a completely different room...).
As part of the exhibition, there was also a live clown performance passively standing behind the locked door of a small maintenance room as part of the opening. None of the visitors knew about the performance beforehand. Surprising cries of curious visitors were thus carried through the gallery from time to time.
THE MAN WHO RETURNED FROM SPACE BACK TO EARTH