ARTY PARTY: Faux Mo 2016

All photography by Remi Chauvin, 2016 (unless noted otherwise)

The dying robot created by Tasmanian artist, Jason James.

The dying robot created by Tasmanian artist, Jason James.

FAUX MO 2016 (THE DEPARTMENT OF NON-HUMAN SERVICES)

Faux Mo 2016 (FM16) was the second instalment of this festival that I have been involved with. This time around, I curated and directed the visual environment, co-producing the site with Aedan Howlett. In the previous iteration we shared all of the visual roles, a learning experience which led to a more refined and clearly articulated role structure for the 2016 program. Faux Mo began as a small after party for the second MONA FOMA festival in 2010, progressing in scale and ambition to become a near rival to the main festival in subsequent years. Faux Mo was originally curated by Brain Ritchie and a selection of others such as Supple/Fox (Hannah Fox & Tom Supple) and Duckpond, until a new team was approached by Brian Ritchie (Curator of MONA FOMA) in 2014. The new team consisted of Aedan Howlett and myself for the visual environment and James Walsh (Dameza) as musical curator. Our first production was in 2015 at the Odeon Theatre, Hobart, and surrounding environs. From the success of this first event, which in many ways was a trial run and a deep learning experience for the team, we were given an expanded degree of agency and control to produce the 2016 version, which included scouting for a suitable venue. Through chance, I discovered that the ex-government building at 12 Murray Street, Hobart, was vacant - and proceeded to make enquiries which led to the securing of this as a spectacular site for FM16.

12 Murray St, Hobart, Tasmania – the host site.

12 Murray St, Hobart, Tasmania – the host site.

Host Organism

From inception, I had conceived of FM16 as an individual organism, a living building, in which audience members performed within it’s networked environs as a kind of parasite or invading contagion to which the building could ‘react’ in an accommodating or hostile manner. The various rooms and articulated spaces would function as organs - individual filters to regulate the flow of invading humans. The articulation of specific spaces would be crucial to this flow (as with crucial organs) and others could operate as redundant, minor or cosmetic. A constant line of consideration throughout the development of the project was concerned with the idea that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Deep Learning (MDL) could be imagined, somewhat fancifully, as being inherent to all non-human things – that all things potentially operate on a genetic, particulate or electro-magnetic level as ‘intelligent’. Held as a folly, difficult to argue and impossible to prove, this is nonetheless the attitude and belief structure that I carry with me through the day to day as well as within the particular conceptual framework of this project.

After much back and forth dialogue with the MONA Communications team, the phrase ‘Electric Dreams’ was put forward by the team as the official FM16 tagline for promotional material. Coincidentally, or inevitably as per an assemblage, the film Electric Dreams (1984) was a distinct and affecting experience from my childhood (alongside 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)). The film portrays the development of AI in a mundane suburban environment, leading to a bizarre love triangle between a computer AI, a male developer and a female neighbour. The title song from the film, Together in Electric Dreams by Georgio Moroder, was also my favourite song as a child, along with New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle (1986) and the Pet Shop Boy’s Suburbia (1986). This little collection of songs forms another bizarre triangle between the film thematics, FM16 thematics and the music I am producing as Vibrant Matters (who incidentally performed at Faux Mo) whose song Lorenz has stylistic similarities to the Moroder song, as well as to Daft Punk, who collaborated with Moroder in a tribute song Georgio by Moroder from their Random Access Memories album of 2013. These tiny and seemingly co-incidental components are possibly critical building blocks, each one a small but necessary component in the assemblage of FM16.

The Virus

The initial probing of human invaders occurred at 9.30pm on Friday 15th January 2016. Due to the main festival being held on site at MONA in Berridale, the humans began arriving via bus and ferry in waves, initially tentative and moving through the largely uninhabited spaces with respectful curiosity. A larger wave arrived at approx. 11pm, proceeding to flood the building to capacity and behaving in a far more bombastic manner (possibly due to higher levels of intoxication). Every nook, space and cranny (including beneath, on top of, and within the artworks) was pushed to its limits including deliberate destruction and interference. Much of this had been considered and planned for in the construction phase – however the sheer volume and energy of the invading force overcame some of the elements in a manner not dissimilar to kidney failure or cardiac arrest. In this sense, the analogy of FM16 as a host organism to an invading parasite was ratified, and hinted at an untimely death for the host. 

THE Anti Virus

As with any host organism, there are native defences against viruses and parasites. Across the three nights of the festival we engaged three distinct groupings of roving performers to act as ‘white blood cells’ or native inhabitants of the building. The rationale behind the different groupings was that the host organism was developing, or evolving, different mechanisms of defence to fight of the successive waves of invaders over the three nights. The first grouping were conceived of as a ‘native’ defence, the second as an evolved or genetically engineered and artificially intelligent upgrade, such as with a cyborg, and the third group as a synthesis of invader and defender - signalling a mutagenic adaption by the host organism to accommodate (or join) the human virus. 

The first group (Friday 15th) were the binary Masters & Slaves whose costumes were developed in collaboration with Sabio Designs as representative of dichotomous power relations. Using simple visual cues such as black / white, short / tall, revealed / concealed and similarly affected behavioural tropes, the performers moved throughout the spaces of the building in pairs and as groups – interacting with audience members and creating a distraction from the host space itself.  In information technology, master/slave configurations are used for unidirectional control of one device over one or more other devices, where the master is usually a regulator of speed and the slave a regulator of torque[1]. The masters’ costumes consisted of white diaphanous and opaque materials evocative of the retro-futuristic styling of 70’s science fiction, with attention to detail placed on breaking up and altering the perception of the human form within - a kind of anti-gestalt that is employed in military camouflage, where foliage is used to break up the form of the human soldier’s silhouette. I completed the outfits by fashioning masks from mirror tint film applied to clear high-density plastic, creating a scenario where the masters could observe whilst being concealed, as well as reflect back to observers an image of themselves. As with many of the peoples that populate science fiction literature, such as the Tanu of Julian May’s Pliocene Saga or the Tiste Liosan of Erikson’s Malazan series, the masters are at once visual embodiments of purity whilst enacting a cruel and disregarding justice upon those for whom their judgments are handed down. In turn, the slaves’ costumes were black and drew attention to the human form of the actors, their movements cowed, subjugated and yet bridling with an energy that spoke of contained rage and the possibility of violence. These tropes play into the fictional narratives of science fiction whilst also drawing attention to real world and historical narratives, such as with the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA (2016) and the mistreatment of the Aboriginal people of Australia by colonial white settlers. 

[1] How IDE Controllers Work, http://computer.howstuffworks.com/ide4.htm

Photo by Jamin, 2016

Photo by Jamin, 2016

The second grouping (Saturday 16th) consisted of the cyborgs. Conceived of as an evolution where master and slave have become one in a techno-organic fusion of components, the cyborgs maintained mirror plate masks and black colouration from their progenitors, but displayed new capacities through a pulsating network of lights that adorned their body in a fashion similar to that of a cuttlefish - a dynamic camouflage that could act as both hypnotic defensive and startling predation. The suits were conceived of as a ‘light harness’, similar to that of a bondage suit, that could be adapted to fit a range of body sizes whilst maintaining visual cohesion of the light strips. Leon Yunanhov designed and programmed the LED components of suits whilst Sabrina Evans developed the physical harnesses from camping supply straps and buckles. The battery packs allowed about 2 hours of continuous usage as the cyborgs roamed the site, performing and interacting with the audience. At some point in the proceedings, some of the light suits began to malfunction, moving from strobing articulations of hypnotic capacity to blaring white beacons of static agency - as though the emperor’s new clothes had been whipped away to reveal not his nakedness, but rather the glitch in the jpeg, the ghost in the machine, or the static in television broadcast.

The final batch of performers on the third night (Sunday 17th) consisted of a troop of variously costumed (and un-costumed) performers that employed a different methodology to the first two groupings. Whilst given agency to borrow at will from the earlier nights costumes and methods, this group was conceived of as a ‘perfected’ evolution - akin to the mimetic T-1000 from Terminator 2 (1991) or Ava from Ex-Machina (2015). They could act as performer or audience at will in the same way that behavioural camouflage[1] may operate, and employed a range of interactive games, relational aesthetics and performative tropes that culminated with a gyrating onstage performance in white lycra body socks. The lead performer in this group Georgia-Lucy, took the brief and expanded and developed it with her team into what I regard as the most successful of the three nights. In this way, the FM16 organism had developed and evolved its antibodies into a seamless simulacrum of the invading parasitic humans.

[1] Such as with crypsis (difficult to see) and mimesis (mistaken for other objects) as found in some animals such as the cuttlefish, moth and chameleon. (Endler, 1981)

Parasites

In addition to the invading parasites, the FM16 hosted some benign parasites that actively worked with the site, aiding regulation and flow, assisting the agentic capacities of the host and virus alike: these were the front of house (FoH) and food & beverage(F&B) staff. In order to disrupt expectation and break with tradition, the bar areas were dressed in sterile white textiles and bathed in white light, whilst all MONA FoH and F&B staff were costumed to mimic the clone-like staff that populated the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Due to budgetary constraints, but also through a sense of expediency, the costumes were developed from cheap white-blonde wigs and disposable white painting suits. The bar dressings and clone outfits were produced by designer Charlotte Bell. The staff were supplied with a range of scripted responses written by artist Scot Cotterell, and asked to respond to all queries[1] with one of the responses. Some of the scripted responses were “I am sorry, but I am not authorised to answer that question” and “I will need to seek advice from a higher authority” etc.

[1] save those that were of a safety concern etc

Kirsha Kaechele ntering the Infinite Drop Room, Photo by Remi Chauvin 2016

Kirsha Kaechele ntering the Infinite Drop Room, Photo by Remi Chauvin 2016

Navigating the Space

Proprioception is an organism’s sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of its body and the strength or effort required for movement in response to incoming information regarding external forces. It is at once a distinct sense (i.e. in addition to the 5 senses) and yet it is critically informed by other senses such as sight, hearing and touch. Proprioception can be easily understood as the sensory apparatus in humans that enables co-ordinated dancing, the ability to ascend stairs successfully, avoid incoming projectiles and sense the location of body parts in the dark. The proprioceptive system is said to contain both the vestibular (balance) and kinaesthetic (movement) systems. It was intended that FM16 attempt to engage with this sensory apparatus, which in part was fulfilled by the very nature of the host site (4 levels of warren like spaces), and in part by the nature of the artistic installations. Of course, most movement in dimensional space engages the proprioceptive system in some fashion; the distinction here was to encourage alternative ways of engagement that are not explicitly tacit or innate.

Earlier research had led me to consider the notion of populations thinking proprioceptively; which is to say, unique forms of embodied awareness adopted by individual organisms as a population –for example as espoused by population thinking[1]. This can be argued in a technological sense by examining the proprioception that humans engage with when driving, or in an evolutionary sense by examining the proprioception employed by early amphibious creatures as they transitioned from the sea to the land. The behaviour is in part mimetic (such as with a driving instructor) and in part constrained by the external forces (such as with a seat, pedal and wheel positioning). In this way it was expected that individuals within FM16 would imitate the behaviours of other individuals according to the environmental forces and pressures that they were subjected to. To some degrees, this included destructive behaviour as well, where some participants deemed it more appropriate to go through a wall rather than around it.

[1] De Landa, M, 1992, Virtual environments as intuition synthesisers, http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/delanda/pages/intuition.htm

Droppa, Jamin, 2016, assemblage, 80 x 80cm

Droppa, Jamin, 2016, assemblage, 80 x 80cm

Organs within the Host

The Infinity Drop (Jamin)

A crawlspace was created, with two ‘secret’ entrances, which led to a confined and darkened space. Within the space I had created an artwork set onto the floor, consisting of an 80cm diameter circular glass table top, that reflected internally a ring of LED’s - providing a theoretically infinite drop. Conceived of as a den or secluded space where one could escape the tumult and quietly engage in conversation et al., the artwork quickly became a veritable highway of drunken crawlers racing through one entrance and out the other. The individuals had become a population thinking proprioceptively, mimicking each others behaviour within the constraints of the tunnel-like space, quite possibly reliving some collective childhood memory of playground tunnels or of an elaborate trap constructed by older siblings in a game of dare. The space had such a high amount of traffic that it was closed down by staff several times, even screwed shut with boards, only to be creatively smashed back open by punters eager to have or relive the experience. Eventually, at some point on the second night, the glass topped artwork affectionately titled “Droppa” was smashed and had to be removed. The space functioned as a simple crawlspace on the Sunday night, which continued to prove popular. I heard anecdotes afterwards that people had enjoyed the space as it was intended and various photos emerged to back that up (pictured above), however it was an enlightening experience to discover how a (raucous) mob of humans will respond to unusual spaces with their bodies, collectively. This insight will inform future iterations of this kind of space, allowing for ‘human highways’ and collective flirtations with claustrophobic environs.

The Red Room

Paul Lim & Scot Cotterell

The Red Room was conceived and realised by Paul Lim, the lighting designer and technical manager for the project. Akin to a den of iniquity or pseudo-asylum, the walls were covered with red carpet, bathed in red light and with a wall of gridded LEDs that would occasionally reveal the word TAX. Above this sign, Scot Cotterell’s work Bake’n’Shake displayed on a shelf the various household ingredients required to make crystal methamphetamine. Below, seemingly upended and carelessly left, lies a regular household green garbage bin that forms the secret entrance to the Infinity Drop Room. This room functioned as a liminal space between the outdoor main stage area, and the first floor secondary stage area; a gateway perhaps, to a range of questionable choices. In the context of the host, this space was an arterial manifold or mitral valve guiding flows between interiority and exteriority, occasionally trapping invaders within its ultra red intensity. Similar to works by James Turrell or Carlos Cruz-Diaz, The Red Room affected the chromatic perception of anyone held within its bounds for more than a few minutes, leading to emergent hallucinogenic perception.

The Observatory

Jamin

A playful experiment alongside Aedan Howlett with surplus fluorescent light components (taken from the internal spaces of the Host) led to a work that became The Observatory. A contemplation of Ivan Navarro’s Reality Show (2010) (viewed at Light Show, MCA 2015) led to the consideration of an inverted version of this work, where the participant is occulted within a one-way mirror chamber – a seemingly invisible observer of the brightly lit inhabitants of the rest of the space. This particular work also relates to the Jeremy Bentham’s idea of a Panopticon Prison where each cell is exposed on one side to a central tower, whilst partitioned and segregated from each other (illustrated below). As explored by Thomas McMullen, there are similarities between the Panopticon Prison and that of Internet and digital surveillance[1]. This artwork was particularly successful in that, on entering the room, many humans did not guess the purpose (or accessibility) of the observatory chamber, leading to scenarios where the observed mingled for extended periods, unaware of the observer(s) within the chamber. This element was continuously in flux, where someone exiting the chamber would surprise the observed humans and reveal the surveillance.

[1] What does the panopticon mean in the age of digital surveillance?, Thomas McMullen, The Guardian, 23 July 2015 www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/23/panopticon-digital-surveillance-jeremy-bentham

 

Bentham's Panopticon

Bentham's Panopticon

The Mylar Room

Kit Wise & Jamin

“The work considered how digital technologies can provide both a medium and a visual language for the 'non-human'. Part of an ongoing series of projects investigating the relationship between the digital and abstraction, Oceanic Mass (Tropical Mix) played with the hot and humid climate of the tropics as an equivalence to the heightened atmosphere of a nightclub. Saturated colours, forest vistas and dense undergrowth also echoed aspects of Tasmania's temperate landscapes. Mirrored surfaces refracted the imagery across an expanded visual field, emphasising the grid of modernist architecture as well as rasterised computer graphics.” Kit Wise

Working towards the ideas presented by Kit Wise, I produced the physical environment of the space using reflective Mylar film that was wrapped around high-density sound boards and metal book shelves cannibalised from the building itself. Repeated on mass, with subtle differences from one panel to the next, the mirrored sections took on the form of a vectored network suspended in a void-like field, achieved through painting the remainder of the space in matt black. Wise’s projected work refracted throughout the mirrored spaces, becoming an infinitely warped illusion of colour and movement, suggestive of a holographic universe or of a virtual environment encountered within the Occults Rift[1].

[1] The Occulus Rift is a popular Virtual reality platform developed by Oculus VR and released on 28 March 2016.

The Vault

Lucy Benson

“ ‘NEOPHYSICAL 01: On The Brink Of A Beautiful Future’ is part of a new series of artworks and ‘transformative environments’ by visual artist Lucy Benson, titled ‘Liminal Studies / Brink Phenomena’. It is a techno-positive investigation of liminal states in physicality and identity, human and post-human existence. Border-lines are identified and exploded – opening up the infinite realm of the in-between for exploration and discovery. Sound Design by Jamie Teasdale (Kuedo).” Lucy Benson

The vault room on the ground floor level of 12 Murray is a cube shaped space of solid walls and hard surfaces: a spectacular reverb chamber. Lucy Benson’s work within this space employed audio-visual and cultural elements to create an immersive and contemplative response to the curatorial premise of the non-human. The most striking element was the periodic appearance of the projected word ‘ME’, which, when inverted on the reflective water surface below, became ‘WE’. This simple statement speaks to some complex notions of the ‘other’, exploring human-techno relationships and the increasingly blurry line between user, interface, software and hardware. The material-semiotic content of the work is also intriguing as the signs of ME & WE are presented as ephemeral light, whilst the substrates that they appear on are unaffected, unmoved, untouched. Maybe humans are like this: the makers of ephemeral signs and constructions, creating arbitrary connections between all of the things that we know – whilst in the background, grinding ever onward, is an actual universe - a substrate –that is unmoved, untouched and unaffected. 

The Strobing Corridor

Jamin & Paul Lim

I had an idea for a dislocating or disorienting corridor space, with an atmosphere that reflected early sci-fi films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Paul Lim fulfilled this vision through creative lighting effects. A long passageway was selected and installed with strobing lights, as well as scanner beams that crisscrossed through the glass windows atop the corridor and throughout the rest of that building level. The corridor strobed as well as chased lights up and down its length, creating the sensation of being upon a travelator on the outskirts of some retro-future war zone. Due to the flow of traffic within the building and an analysis of the choke points (where people can’t effectively move through a particular passage or room), the strobing corridor was summarily ripped out on day 2. This had the inadvertent yet suitably delicious effect of further disorienting humans on the second night, who became discombobulated by the seeming appearance of a whole new space (sans-corridor); or who, remembering the corridor from the night before, set out to find it. This aspect, somewhat like an episode of Doctor Who (where one minute the Tardis is there and the next it is gone), is something that I would like to explore further in the future. 

The Conspiracy Induction Room

Scot Cotterell

Scot Cotterell’s Conspiracy Induction Room presented the bleak and sterile environment of a sparsely furnished office space. Two chairs, a projection screen and two whiteboards occupied the room, as well as a running projection video comprised of religious and other conspiracy theories from the deepest and most overlooked places of the internet. As much a testament to the vast dystopian sprawl of knowledge that has, in it’s relatively short history come to (supposedly) comprise the entirety of ‘human knowledge’ – the work also points to the prior history of the building as a utilitarian office space for government workers, and serves to disrupt and counterpoint the colourful and hallucinatory experience of other installations in the building by providing its own disorienting perspective – that of a reclusive enclave of secret opinion and closely held views. This work, in its openly surreal presentation of fictional narratives, speaks to the language of computer algorithms that generate text which at first seem written as though by a human, only later revealing its actual heritage through incremental observations of flaws and non-logics. This is a strategy Cotterell has employed in other works, such as in the exhibition A gigantic etching of an eagle and a sparrow from 2015 at Penny Contemporary, Hobart.

The Death of a Robot

Jason James

Jason James interactive robot was positioned at the top of the first flight of stairs, within a grotto-like room shrouded in black materials, sitting on an old leather dentist’s chair, a single light falling upon it’s lonely and forlorn form, surrounded by coffins. With mirrors for eyes, the robot’s mechanically animated head turned to follow humans as they transverse the space, using sensors and other such technical wizardry. Seemingly on cue, possibly as an indictment of careless human transgressions towards the ‘other’, our dear Robot had his face smashed, various parts of his body mangled and was removed from the space within hours – his frail and damaged body relocated to the entry foyer, surrounded by guards and taking on a more comical, if sadder, form as he attempted to watch the stream of revellers entering the Host building, his motors working overtime and occasionally ‘glitching’ out into a frenzy of head shaking as if from fear of further mistreatment. 

From a curatorial perspective, I viewed James’ work in this space as the metaphorical heart of the Host organism – a tiny and fragile mechanical thing on its deathbed, its anthropomorphised form demanding human relationships – almost as if the host had manifested a human personification in order to reach out to the invaders, an attempt at communion. Although genuinely saddened by its mistreatment, the deliberate or accidental negligence towards the robot can be seen as a soliloquy to a human population that mistreats its indigenous peoples, detains refugees, panders to racial bigotry and supremacy, and that holds in low regard the health of the biosphere that sustains it. 

Jason James also produced a significant installation behind the first level band stage, using components from a previous work, Angry Electrons. The light wall functioned as a low-fi screen that displayed an ongoing series of diagrammatic and codified language via a network of incandescent bulbs (below).

The Big Beast

Aedan Howlett

Occupying a large area of the first level of the building, The Beast was conceptualised as a large, non-human parasite that had taken up residence in the Host building. A denizen within its lair, and a lair itself, the Beast contained an open area within its body for humans to relax in. Climbing through the orifice like opening, made from elastic shock cord and fabric, one entered a spacious and softly lit area framed by re-purposed Metro bus seats. The experience was akin to entering the digestive tract of a large animal. 

The Little Beast

Aedan Howlett & Jamin

The next Beast installation occupied a room within the basement of the Host building, hulking in one corner almost like a spider or wasp-like insect in its nest. Mounted with oscillating LED cannons and glowing from within, this work took on a quasi-military appearance, occupying the space with an almost frightening countenance. A DJ platform was installed at the top of the structure.

Main Stage: Are you Watching — III

313RGB (Christopher Norman, Roland Gataric and Aaron Horsley)

313RGB are a collective of three artists: Christopher Norman, Roland Gataric and Aaron Horsley.

“Running silently above a heaving crowd, invasive computational processes tick away. Unbeknownst to the true meaning of what is being observed.” 313RGB

A large scale projection work was installed above the Main Stage outdoor area of the Host building’s courtyard. Sourcing information from non-secure data transmitted by the mobile devices of the audience, the work displayed an ever-evolving scramble of pattern and farcical language. Conceptually, the work performed as a translating device between the Host and the Parasites, encrypting and decoding a nonsensical conversation into light and form. 

Cosmic Two-Wheeler

Jean Poole

From Jean Poole: A dual projection mapped corner installation exploring our relationship with one of our most successful technologies - the bicycle.

Jean Poole, the alter ego of Sean Healy, has been the main stage VJ and projection artist across a large number of Faux Mo parties. His clever splicing, stimulating visuals and often locally sourced imagery has beguiled many a human over time. In this iteration of Faux Mo, he also produced this projection mapped installation that examined techno-human relations and the perceptual shifts which they engender.

The Bamboo Forest

Aedan & Jamin

In the subterranean basement layer of the Host building, a forest was growing. Constructed from bamboo, camouflage netting and wall painting, the Forest occupied a transitional space between the bespoke installations Cloud Spa and Lair of Entanglement

Cloud Spa

Michaela Gleave 

“Cloud Spa (Faux Mo) was a pool of real cloud, installed underground in the deepest depths of Faux Mo 2016.  A retro-futuristic spa environment, the only source of light in the room was blue and teal LEDs, installed at cloud level to illuminate the abyss.  Accessed via a wood ladder and circular entrance the internal space was modelled to operate somewhere between a 70's conversation pit, in-the-round theatre, and communal bathhouse.  The cloud was charged with ions, promoting feelings of well being, and scented to encourage astral travel.  A space for discussion and contemplation, rejuvenation and relaxation; a respite in the madness that is Faux MO.” Michaela Gleave

Aedan Howlett and I worked with Michaela Gleave to produce this installation, located in the building’s basement. Based on an earlier work of the artist, Cloud Spa was conceptualised as a temple or crucial organ, such as a liver, filtering and purifying the parasites within the host. 

Lair of Entanglement

Selena de Carvalho

“ Lair of entanglement is a sanctuary amidst the wilderness of Faux Mo, activating the senses through the unexpected scent and texture of fresh grassy knolls underfoot. Basking in Jupiteresque projections, the Lair is a playground for atmospheric notions of scale and time. A little patch of earth, somewhere for party animals to hide out.” Selena De Carvahlo

Selena De Carvahlo’s Lair of Entaglement was another reflective space in the basement level. This space was like the Host’s appendix, repopulating the intestinal tract with beneficial bacteria and gut flora. The pungent aroma of fresh grass, however, slowly degenerated into a miasma of stench – as beer, urine and general filth began to take hold in the space. Whilst in this case the appendix was not removed, it certainly displayed the signs of appendicitis. 

The Rooftop

Joe Hamilton

Extravagant Optimism, 2016, Video, 9 minutes 10 seconds

“ Extravagant Optimism is a video work that combines HD and 4K video clips taken from many different high-end corporate videos. The camera drifts meditatively through industrial landscapes and pristine automated factories. The video responds to the FauxMo theme of non-human by highlighting the move towards autonomous computational systems where the human worker becomes almost non existent in the industrial landscape.” Joe Hamilton

A large-scale video work dominated the rooftop space of the building, a kaleidoscopic and disorienting assemblage of parallaxing views; exploring the non-human through a lens of corporate perspectives and cutting edge technologies. Joe Hamilton’s work performed like an ocular organ of the Host building, a re-presentation of what is seen through non-human eyes and non-human perspectives – the slow tracking of a mechanically mounted camera or the dizzying heights of a flying drone. 

The Death of a Host

From mangled robots to smashed infinities, by the third night the Host building was losing its fight against the invading parasites. Some humans had taken it upon themselves to begin the demolition of works early, kicking holes through walls, punching doors and generally regurgitating all of the foulness that they were plagued with. By the time the last humans were removed from the building (including some that were found passed out in coffins and the like) the Host resembled a slack-jawed and catatonic cadaver, covered in a film of pungent and fetid slime that the invading parasites had left in their wake.

I spent a brief hour in solitude with my Host, upon its rooftop, as the cool dawn light edged it’s way up past the silhouetted hills of the Eastern Shore. Whilst overly susceptible to extreme flights of fantasy, for a brief moment I felt at one with the building, that sturdy substrate, unmoved, untouched, unaffected. The host and I had reached a point of symbiotic relatedness; a kind of cold, concrete empathy – or maybe just a cold hard fact. 

My humanness had been temporarily assuaged by the salve of the non-human. 

Jamin, 2016

 

Faux Mo is the late night club of MONA FOMA (Museum of Old and New Art's Festival Of Music and Art).

Jamin is a PhD candidate at TCotA, University of Tasmania