:capture [les mots juste]

University of Florida Institutional Repository
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
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INGEST IEID E20110408_AAAAHW INGEST_TIME 2011-04-09T03:19:26Z PACKAGE UFE0015828_00001
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54271588 F20110408_AACTLH tourist1.mov
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0015828/00001

Material Information

Title: :capture les mots juste
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: higgins, j. j. ( Dissertant )
Revelle, Barbara J. ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006


Subjects / Keywords: Art and Art History thesis, M.F.A
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Art and Art History


Abstract: :capture les mots juste is an examination space, a container, in which the audience experiences being both subject and object, while interacting within the space and its contents through discovery and play. This project in lieu of thesis is a visual application of a diachronic theory of the machine that centers on the significance of information through constructed language, time, memory, and place. This gallery installation references Baudrillard's simulacra; Foucault's; panopticon; de Certeau's everyday; Fillou's ideas, objects and events; Cage's transcendent silence; and de Saussure's structural linguistics in a synthesized laboratory environment. The project, :capture les mots juste, consists of surveillance cameras and monitors, video/audio information stations, a clear vinyl tent that represents both a private and public space, and a video projection that requires the audience to intervene within the projected viewing space. In addition, a countertop display case contains artifacts, relics, and objects elevated to a perceived value by this mechanism of separation and control; protected from the audience by the glass wall, but accessible from behind. The audience is invited and encouraged to become part of the space, to play, and to change the system by inventing new rules of operation. While participants in the system explore, examine, and reflect upon their relationships with the objects, their behaviors are being monitored, recorded, and collected, to be projected in another part of the space. Observers and participants can trade places, but never see themselves in each role. So, to whom is the machine answerable? An experiment, :capture les mots juste is a contained space simulating the machinery of social controls, designed to involve the audience in examining public and private behaviors. The panoptic framing places the audience in the position of both subject and object, encouraging awareness of the constructs of language and the power of the machine.
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 53 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Project in lieu of thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0015828:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0015828/00001

Material Information

Title: :capture les mots juste
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: higgins, j. j. ( Dissertant )
Revelle, Barbara J. ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006


Subjects / Keywords: Art and Art History thesis, M.F.A
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Art and Art History


Abstract: :capture les mots juste is an examination space, a container, in which the audience experiences being both subject and object, while interacting within the space and its contents through discovery and play. This project in lieu of thesis is a visual application of a diachronic theory of the machine that centers on the significance of information through constructed language, time, memory, and place. This gallery installation references Baudrillard's simulacra; Foucault's; panopticon; de Certeau's everyday; Fillou's ideas, objects and events; Cage's transcendent silence; and de Saussure's structural linguistics in a synthesized laboratory environment. The project, :capture les mots juste, consists of surveillance cameras and monitors, video/audio information stations, a clear vinyl tent that represents both a private and public space, and a video projection that requires the audience to intervene within the projected viewing space. In addition, a countertop display case contains artifacts, relics, and objects elevated to a perceived value by this mechanism of separation and control; protected from the audience by the glass wall, but accessible from behind. The audience is invited and encouraged to become part of the space, to play, and to change the system by inventing new rules of operation. While participants in the system explore, examine, and reflect upon their relationships with the objects, their behaviors are being monitored, recorded, and collected, to be projected in another part of the space. Observers and participants can trade places, but never see themselves in each role. So, to whom is the machine answerable? An experiment, :capture les mots juste is a contained space simulating the machinery of social controls, designed to involve the audience in examining public and private behaviors. The panoptic framing places the audience in the position of both subject and object, encouraging awareness of the constructs of language and the power of the machine.
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 53 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Project in lieu of thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0015828:00001

This item has the following downloads:

Full Text

: capture [les mots just]

j.j. higgins





In grateful appreciation of time

given freely by those who believe in the experience

and who were my

collaborators : co-conspirators

advisors and friends

Summary of Performance Option in Lieu of Thesis
Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Master of Fine Arts

:capture [les mots just]


j .j. higgins

August 2006

Chair: Barbara Jo Revelle
Major Department: Art and Art History

:capture [les mots just] is an examination space, a container, in which the

audience experiences being both subject and object, while interacting within the space

and its contents through discovery and play. This project in lieu of thesis is a visual

application of a diachronic theory of the machine that centers on the significance of

information through constructed language, time, memory, and place. This gallery

installation references Baudrillard's simulacra; Foucault's panopticon; de Certeau's

everyday; Fillou's ideas, objects and events; Cage's transcendent silence; and de

Saussure's structural linguistics in a synthesized laboratory environment.

The project, :capture [les mots juste, consists of surveillance cameras and

monitors, video/audio information stations, a clear vinyl tent that represents both a

private and public space, and a video projection that requires the audience to intervene

within the projected viewing space. In addition, a countertop display case contains arti-


facts, relics, and objects elevated to a perceived value by this mechanism of separation

and control; protected from the audience by the glass wall, but accessible from behind.

The audience is invited and encouraged to become part of the space, to play,

and to change the system by inventing new rules of operation. While participants in the

system explore, examine, and reflect upon their relationships with the objects, their

behaviors are being monitored, recorded, and collected, to be projected in another part of

the space. Observers and participants can trade places, but never see themselves in each

role. So, to whom is the machine answerable?

An experiment, :capture [les mots just] is a contained space simulating the

machinery of social controls, designed to involve the audience in examining public and

private behaviors. The panoptic framing places the audience in the position of both

subject and object, encouraging awareness of the constructs of language and the power of

the machine.


A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ......................................................................... ....................2
A B S T R A C T ............................................................. ................ .. 3
LIST OF IM AGES............. .............................. .......... ..6
IN TR O D U C TIO N ...................................... .. ...................... .... .. .... ............ ..
M A CH INE ..................... ..................... ........................... 7
PREFACE:W ORK ............ ............. ............ ........ ........................
OBJECT OF EXPER IEN CE ............................................ ............................ 9
OBSERVATION .................................... ..... .......... ............. 11
G A M E : SPA CE ........ ....................................................... ........ ........ ............. 15
INTERVENTION :PLAYSPACE ........................................ ........................ 19
IN :F O R M ...............................................................................2 0
:CA PTU RE [LE S M O TS JU STE ] ......................................................................... ...... 22
G A L L E R Y : SPA C E ......................... ................... .................. ................... .....22
FINDING FREEDOM, FINDING PLACE ................................. ...............25
APPARATUS FOR INTERVENTION ...................................... ............... 28
"ACHIEVING" ACCESS ..................................................... 32
LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION? .................................... ............... 34
O B JE C T :O B JE C T ........................................................................ .......... .. .. 3 5
TRANSPORTING THE LIVING SPACE ................................... ............... 38
THE SUBJECT IS THE OBJECT ............................................... ............... 39
THE AUDIENCE AS THE MACHINE ...................................... ............... 40
C O N C L U SIO N :E N D ...................................... ......... ....................................................49
PRODUCT OF THE EXPERIMENT..............................................................................49
L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ......................................................................... ....................50
A D D E N D U M ........................... .. ............. ................... ............................. .... 52
ADD ITION AL VIDEO CLIPS.......................................... .......................... 52
B IO G R A PH Y SK E T C H .............................................................. .................. .......53


Figure 1-1. [M E]dia: space installation entry ............................................................... .8

Figure2- 1. someoneelse/notmeinstallationimage........................ ......... .............9

Figure 2-2. w at e r (installation/videostill)............................................................10

Figure2-3.text:m essage(videoclip)......... .............. .................................. ............... 11

Figure2-4. [ME]dia: space(videoclip)................................ ............ ..................12

Figure2-5. self-servicesecurityinstallation apparatus ...................................................... 14

Figure2-6. trans:portableoffice (installation detail) ............... ................................ 15

Figure2-7. lin{ear](videostill)........... ................................................... ............... 16

:capture [les mots juste>

Figure3-1. imstallation:bookdetail........................... .......... ...............22

Figure3-2.galleryinstallation: entry............................... ................... ............. 22

Figure 3-3. travel agent (video clip)................................... ....................... 34

Figure 3-4. installation: machineinteraction space .............. ............. ...............41

Figure 3-5. installation:text:machine............. ............................... 42

Figure 3-6. installion:information video center.......................... ..............43

Figure -7. Installation: floorproj ectioninteraction...........................................44

Figure3-8. Installation: mass>juice self-service station....................................44

Figure3-9. installation: mail mapofketchup.................................................45

Figure3-10. installation: displayvitrine.................. ............................................. 46

Figure3-11. installation:vinyltent...................................... ................. ............... 47

Figure3-12. installation: vinyl tent:ashabitat ............. ........................................ 47

Figure 3-13. installation: vinyl tent (closeup detail).................. .............. ....48

Figure3-14. installation: display casefullfrontview................................................49

additional video clips

Figure A-1. (video clip) tourist................................ ......... ................ 52

Figure A-2. :capture. les mots just (video clip) gallery.................... .......... 52


The beginning

Mass movements are usually discerned more clearly by a camera than by the naked eye. A bird's-eye view
best captures gl,ti_... ofhundreds ofthousands. And even ;i.. ,-oih such a view may be as accessible to
the human eye as it is to the camera, the image received by the eye cannot be enlarged the way a ,i,. ,r, ..
is enlarged. This means that mass movements, including war, constitute a form of human behavior which
particularly favors mechanical equipment.
Walter Benjamin, A Work ofArt in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. [footnote 21]

It would be difficult to pinpoint an exact moment. That moment would be the time I rec-

ognized a power that exceeded my own space. I was never certain of how to speak of the way it

affected me. Words do not begin to describe the machine Identifying the moment would mean

defining, measuring or positioning time to mark the first experience of its seductive power.

That moment is the time I became conscious of a nearly fetishistic fascination with the

machine. I was captivated by the notion of it, not as a mechanism, but through the reversibility

of time. The machine is the diachronic langue.'

The machine merged subject and object, stretched beyond present time, while structuring

the future through text, time, and the surrounding world. Ferdinand de Saussure writes that the

bond between the signifer and the signified are arbitrary, and in language there are only differ-

ences.2 Those differences are the operative for the machine.

How did that unseen power work? How did it collect and dispense information? Could

I dissect the apparatus, to discover its working parts? The machine was bigger than I had imag-

ined. It was a convenient and impersonal device constructed to manage and transport space,

objects and time. It took on the role of controlling space.

'Levi-Strauss references myth comes as the third referent, the space between langue and parole. Myth relies upon alleged events
that have historical backing but occur in spaces where time cannot be identified. (1963:202)
2de Saussure writes that everything is based on relations. .. in the relation of language there are only ."r, (1986:652)

It was not the machine as an object that appealed to me. It was the way the ma-

chine affected the surrounding space. I wanted to know where its power came from.

It was a magical mechanism, a phenomenological device designed to perform

tasks and transcend spaces. I felt as if I had stumbled upon a secret; some treasured

information. I remember thinking that everyone must know about it. I wondered why

it seemed so ordinary to them. I wanted to have a dialogue about the authority of the

machine; to try to comprehend it. But no one was listening. No one acknowledged the

questions. How could I bring both sides together?

The machine occupies both internal and external space. It could be a physical en-

tity or a system of operation. The machine is the mechanism for processing information

and moving from place to place. It has associations with progress.

The machine is a function of the everyday; a mechanism for the order of exis-

tence. I wondered if this were a truthful observation, or if it were my own way of looking

at it. Might it have been an amplified perception of 'machine' power, designed to simplify

tasks? Was it a modern timesaving device, allowing for more leisure and autonomy?

Inside the machine, I could envision the way the space was occupied and ener-

gized; the way it performed tasks and modified behaviors while serving consumers and

authoring the future. I was curious about how it worked. I wanted to know more.

I could imagine being the machine. I recognized its power to transform and as-

sign space, as mass communication and advertising have done. Walter Benjamin wrote

about it in the epilogue of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

It was not so much a particular machine. Nearly any machine would do. What

mattered were the mechanisms. What were its capabilities? Who was in control?

Figure 1-1

We see ;i,,.: not as they are, but as we are.
H.M. Tomlinson


The object of experience

The familiar objects occupy a space

they do not seem to fit.

Within the contexts of installation,

Subjects are separated from the places we

have become accustomed to seeing them.

When positioned in new spaces, they take

on other meanings. They demand a second
Figure 2-1
look and perhaps a response-- if for no other

reason than to address the curious interruption caused by their new placement. In fram-

ing a response, can spaces be read in terms as simple as placement or displacement?

The installations are placed in locations where there is potential for traffic-- in

parking lots, between buildings, sidewalks, tabletops, the floor inside a room-- perhaps

even taking up the space of the room. In these new locations, the objects become ac-

cessible to the individual, to the audience. The context is altered by both time and the

displacement of familiar objects; objects that appear out of place. The flow is interrupted,

and we are forced to address it in terms of its syntax. The continuum broken, this spatial

intervention marks a realization of time. What was understood is now in question. How-

ever briefly considered, it becomes a deficiency in our system of language. What hap-

pens to language and to the flow of text when the information is disassembled? Perhaps

the code, the signifier, has changed and we were unaware of the switch. What should be

done about that? Who failed to give us the answers?

With the adequacy of language in question, how would the contents of the space

be interpreted? Do we attempt to decipher it alone, or confer with others and form a col-

lective thought, dialogue or opinion? How would the authority be determined? And if it

concerns the truth, then who determines it? I question the significance of its power.

Do we recognize the emergence of a new architecture that changes structure of

communication and coexistence? Might we consider it an experiment, an exploration for

the sake of amusement or entertainment? Is this a game to capture our attention? Through

its elements of order, has it the potential to get 'under our skin'?

Perceptions of space and time have been affected. Authority has been repositioned

and meaning compromised. The audience questions the validity of objects in those "out

of context" environments. At the confluence of audience and space, the experience be-

gins. It becomes a container, and an emergent forum for constructing a dialogue of mean-

ing. Les motsjuste. The right word.

My work explores the notions of constructed

space and perceptions of time that fall within common

language forms. The installations become examina-

tion spaces that include the audience as a collective

entity, and as co-conspirators in determining value

and meaning. The expectation for experience is that
Figure 2-2
the audience will respond, interact, or intervene with

the work. Audience response is positioned as a voice contributing to the dialogue. Using

the familiar, and representing ordinary time prompts an erasure, a removal of the invisible

(yet acknowledged) delineation between structures that separate art from the everyday.

Within each examination space, I observe audience behavior, social etiquette, language,

culture and the notions of public/private spaces. I seek a common language that relies on

etiquette, language and behavior, and a relationship to the transformations of social space.

The work consists of components that are often experienced as games.


I begin with observations of human behavior within the constructs of social space.

Data is collected and composite to locate commonali-

ties in cultural language and behaviors through playful

interaction with the work. These characteristics are

identified through structures, forms, codes, and signi-

fiers and used to look at ways audiences interact, make

choices and assign value and meaning to what they do.

My work consists of control (and controlled)

spaces where the audience can be observed while inter-

facing both the public and private space. I dissect (or

deconstruct) space as a territory, seeking out moments
Figure 2-3
to interact and/or intervene, and record those responses.

text:message becomes about this simultaneous relationship of the subject and object as

a part of the shifting position of experience; exchanging forms and engaging the body

through levels of consciousness. It questions the territory of language, its images and its

boundaries. A close examination of this 'territory', with its content and individual per-

ceptualization of time spaces, can provide the audience opportunity to invent or discover

new levels of meaning.

My work intersects with Felix Guattari's idea of the artist as an operator of

meaning, Robert Filliou's process of experiential learning, and the experiences of space

explored by Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Allison Knowles, Daniel Spoerri, Ben Vautier,

Robert Watts, and other Fluxus artists who used the dynamics of information and the in-

termedia as a connection between art and life. What I search for is present, but lies in the

space between: the intermedia.

I capture segments of time and image, collecting information.

I place them in examination spaces for observation, interaction, and intervention.

I select from the everyday, assemble objects, and construct environments.

I construct spaces that move through time; or perhaps through anti-time.

This structure becomes the machine. The machine is the tool for intervention,

and an entry into the installation space. In [ME]dia:space, the entry includes the experi-

ence of the body, but is not always about a tactile interaction, giving way to psychologi-

cal space. The interaction of the audience is critical to the work. Possible interventions

determine how the

physical space is ma-

neuvered. Hanging

cables and monitors

are placed within the

uncomfortably close

interior space. Once .. -

inside, the audience a

can lie back and relax Figure 2-

on the medical table recliner to view monitors that show surveilled spaces within the

installation. The images of the audience are seen next to a monitor playing a recorded

cable TV program that features topics of beauty and physical reconstruction. Under the

table, in a cabinet, is a monitor playing the speech of an art collector who acts as a voice

of "authority".

The sterile, institutional space no longer exists once the audience enters. Changes

occur in the order when the audience begins to handle objects, turn knobs, and experi-

ment with the apparatus. The collaboration of the audience with the installation generates

a succession of experiences, a Fluxus strategy. But this game is taking another step and

not simply deconstructing. It expects the audience to participate in a reconstruction. This

concept art is about the politics of the space, the experience, and the embodiment of the

objects that hold the environment in place.

My audience must interact within the framework of the architecture and partici-

pate in the discourse of the space to become aware of what it represents. This establishes

value for the space, and identifies its presence through time. Taking note of responses

and behaviors is a more accurate indicator of truth than the rhetoric of constructed lan-

guage on which we rely.

what is the news? is a work that reflects our interruption of the processes of

nature. The humming of cicadas competes with the white noise remainder of a television

monitor in the front yard of a suburban home. It is a reconstructed outdoor space that

relocates sound and the experience of that sound. In another form, the transmitted sounds

and images were played through a monitor placed in a utility box that was attached to

an electrical pole in a place that was completely manmade. The sounds of nature were

in either harmony or competition with the sounds of the electrical transformer. Could

the audience distinguish the difference? Were they curious enough to open the door and

locate the source? We depend on media to place us, even when there is no image.

In my work, I observe and experiment with the way that the audience uses space

and their behaviors with the objects in my space. I am as curious about who they are as

they are as I am about their responses to the spaces I construct. The space is theirs to

question, perhaps to identify a personal connection to it through memory and experience.

If they are to be my co-conspirators, I must have some faith in them. This thesis project

:capture. les motsjuste tests that notion. It is the machine that places the audience in a

position of simulated control, and creates space to observe interactions in both quiet and

activated spaces. The machine functions as a game.

I look for an etiquette, a code, and a common language system. That includes the

blurring of boundaries and transcending (but not eliminating) cultural constructs. I seek

to provide a mechanism for elevating the level of communication and knowledge. In

order to implement it, we have to leave those safe spaces where we have become seques-

tered. The idea of building community must be expanded.

Operating within the space of community may feel safe. But is it? In most com-

munities a trust system has been formed. However, within that trust there is also a po-

tential liability. Within community, that representative of the institutions about which

Foucault writes, there is a hierarchy. This brings

to mind Foucault's dictum, "where there is

power, there is resistance" (1978: 95) Many cul-

tures, subcultures and religions depend on that

loyalty of the larger ungendered space of com-

munity that exceeds physical proximity. Often

the growth and contribution of the individual to

community becomes about the expectation of

fulfilling hierarchical functions rather than see-

ing or opening up new avenues to thinking and

performing as a contributing individual.

The 'etiquette' of social control and its
Figure 2-5
punitive nature should be considered. As the

general population, we have come to allow decisions to be made for us. Advertising,

mass media and consumerism have supported that system, and while we believe there are

choices, we are encouraged to choose only from what has been chosen for us. Who then

do we become when we no longer know ourselves? How will we know how to see?

The sense of meaning applied to experience becomes diminished. There is no

authenticity, no authorship. How would we know 'authentic'? How do we know the truth

when we see it? Baudrillard writes that we live in a world that has more and more infor-

mation and less and less meaning. What could make meaning? Experience?

We need to find play spaces. Not organized play, but creative outlets. Games.


My installations are constructed within the framework of games that require the

audience to navigate not only the work, but the space that includes others. The idea of

creating community are about the audience's engagement with each other.

In an interview with Robert Filliou, John Cage presented a dialogue on the com-

parison of facts vs. experiences. When the mind and the experience were in dialogue, it

is "the brushing of information against other information" that occurs, and "that the mind

invents or creates from this brushing".

Without spaces for more experiences through casual interaction and intervention,

we lose the confidence it requires to contribute meaningfully to the outside world, not

realizing that the small things we do cause us to construct our own values. These small

experiences work as connecting devices. We lose that sense of experiential tactility by

remaining separated, then have no idea how to behave in public because we have become

so out of touch with ourselves that we cannot expect to understand intermedia space --the

place that falls between ourselves and others-- much less to attempt a civilized interac-

tion with others. We have allowed-- expected-- the mass media to dictate to us who we

are, and yet somehow want to preserve our own spaces as monuments to time. We hide

behind masks and ideas that may not be valid in the outside world.

My spaces function as games do. The apparatus demands intervention; an en-

gagement with the audience. Some- .

times they contain small objects that

require the audience to operate, others

are environments that are to be passed

through or into, the shadow and light

interruption a piece of the work,

while others allow for multiple level

interactions. A small step, perhaps
Figure 2-6

untraceable ways of functioning in my spaces, gives the audience a position of author-

ity. The installation transportable office, is a part of an entire installation that concerned

both public and private space, information technology, the relationship of image to text

and the experience of intervention by the audience. The participating viewer could take

a photograph with the supplied Polaroid instant camera only to discover that the image

was pre-exposed, then reinserted into the film pack for recycling to be expelled with each

push of the button. In order to have a voice in the authorship the surface of these im-

ages of actual people and dolls could then be typed on using the manual office typewriter.

When completed, the collaborative work could either remain on the table, be reinserted

by the viewer into the camera film pack or be removed as a souvenir. It seems slightly

scandalous to obscure this "sacred image" while interacting to alter the piece. The ques-

tion centers on value. An object is worth only as much as the value placed on it. This is

an experience with parallels to Ay-O's Finger Boxes, a visit to Andrea Zittel's AZ site, or

shopping Christine Hill's Volksboutique. The audience alters the piece simply by break-

ing the planes of the space and entering the work. Changing the content makes the piece

constantly in flux. The objects are defined, yet the content is no longer specific. Perus-

ing the installation, the audience began to interact with each other. The camera above

observes all the activity, projecting into the other side of the room where a recorder and

monitor showed the data in delayed time, reminiscent of the work of Dan Graham, Bruce

Nauman, and Peter Weibel.

The mechanisms for operations are in place, but it takes time to affect change. As

an individual, acting as a private entity, we are unable to proceed. We have begun to rely

heavily on the technology, losing ourselves in the convenience. We slip more quickly

and deeply into Baudrillard's simulacrum. We have come to depend on the media to tell

us what to do. How do we get out? Or the greater question is, do we want to? Is remain-

ing on the inside of the experience more comfortable than facing what is on the outside?

Gilles Deleuze writes of this as the experience of experience. Through the apparatus, we

are even further removed from what might be authentic. The game is to maneuver that

present, or locate the exit.

Walter Benjamin wrote of this in the essay The Work ofArt in the Age ofMechani-

cal Reproduction. Through a passive takeover, our choices are slowly eliminated, and

we fail to notice. We believe they are giving us what we want. Are they? Through mass

media, broadcasts, and advertising we have allowed the media to control us with passive

power, choosing not to make choices, or choosing to choose theirs. Confronted with the

power of mediated space (advertising, consumerism), how might Deleuze or Baudelaire

respond ? What melancholy might come after dissecting the object and discovering that

it, too, is souless ... we live within assumptions of space not knowing the difference.

In my work someone else, not me, my challenge to the audience comes with a

level of awareness. The objective is to redirect our attentions and reclaim our spaces.

Are there ethical bounds extended to the voyeur? Is there accountability to the Foucault

panoptic eye? Why is it that we are fascinated more by the sight of image in projection

than disturbed that it is so easily done? To whom is that image broadcast and why? How

is the mechanism constructed? The travel valise sits open in public space, a battery

powered television monitor attached to a small receiver sitting inside. The small camera,

hidden in the pocket of the case, captures images of the passers by from a tiny slit in the

fabric. The camera is hidden from public view, but the image is projected onto the moni-

tor for all to see. The passers by stop and smile, but maintain the space between them-

selves and the object as if they are restricted to the exterior space. Their image captured

on the screen, they look around, perhaps walk away, curious but passive. It sits on a

public street in full view, and no one touches it. Only a child leans into the case to touch

and is removed by the adult, the authority. Who becomes the true authority? The one

who follows the code that no longer manages the information, or the one willing to cross

the boundary and experience, engage, alter the space?

Social anthropologist Mark Auge notes that we have given up choices, yet pre-

tend they still exist. Auge's writing concerns the anthropological view of society, writing

specifically about the construction of non-places. He observes breaks in the continu-

ity of time and place; where time is marked. My installation videos empty[space] and

b[us]stop work as homogenized forms. Both pieces reduce information to question the

formless experience of time and space. Positioned in a monitor that reads as surveillance,

it is a duration of nothingness. The examination of a mechanized dry cleaner operation

and a close examination of a Greyhound Bus terminal are poisoned together in continu-

ous space that reveals only the barest presence of anyone. When the audience accepts the

constructed environment as authentic experience there is no longer a foothold on the real.

How will anthropologists of the future differentiate time and space and culture when

the lines are erased? We continue to mark time synchronically, on a continuum, and yet

we are no longer certain where we exist. Either we do not know how to voice our ac-

knowledgement, acceptance or rejection; or perhaps we are simply unaware of the loss of

identification. Do we have a place to begin?

My investigations are of the audience--the intervention in the spatial construct and

interaction with each other. The video

projection linear] works in that

way. The video is a continuous loop

of collected images and non-places. I

collected images in controlled public

spaces, then projected these images

Figure 2-7 across the audience's walking path in

a new site. The concept is one of experience, and the struggle to arrive. The search for

destination becomes an ongoing journey through an atmosphere consisting of non-places.

Familiar in their architecture, and projected on broken space, the disembodiment of the

images in synchronous movement gives the viewer who passes through the projection an

alternative way or experiencing time. I depend on that strategy, constructing the archi-

tecture in a way that includes the audience, and pull them into the space. From this point,

time and space belong to them. The spaces are no longer mediated in the same way,

belonging now to the individuals who experienced them.

My work plays on the curiosity of the audience to gain access to the social space.

I position them to make choices about intervention in the installation space. In using this

strategy, I become a part of the dialogue. I challenge them to enter the spaces, play, expe-

rience and construct meaning to take away.

The architectures I use for constructing containers are designed for interactivity.

I place on display fragments of discarded time, recorded and replayed in a new location.

These familiar but disconnected fragments are used to reconnect to present time. I want

to return the experience of "being" to my audience. Maurice Merleau-Ponty's "being"

considers all parts and all experiences of the human condition in relation to environment.

My audience should learn to see themselves through their own eyes, and through the eyes

of others; learn the language and speak with confidence; find meaning; see how the uni-

verse connects, but without passing judgment.

I work with language and the specificity of ambiguity. I work with a similar

concept design to that of Fluxus artist Robert Filliou. The "Poipoidrome" positioned

four architectural quadrants as learning situations linking physical, emotional and psychic

experiences of knowledge to space and pedagogical practice. My version of language is

an experience of the space and time. It incorporates phenomenological aspects of archi-

tectures that supersede the unquestioned common function. I want to know the operating

system where we become synchronous with others. It was the message of Joseph Beuys,

through his teaching and in his work. Beuys idea of activism through participation and

performance combined with interdisciplinary dialogue became his 'sculpture' as a per-

spective on history, religion, ethics, science and other. This was Beuys' interpretation of

social space. That idea of participatory art is best served when it ties viewer interactivity

and performative structures with educational and democratic political components. [Hig-

gins. 2002:188 ]

What I want to know is this: what are the rules?

If we do not know the rules, how can we go about constructing meaning?


I told you so. What they might say, or should say.

You could have been paying attention. What was here is now gone. You can nei-

ther keep it, nor get it back because it no longer exists as it was.

My work is informed by this:

1. It begins with Duchamp's use of readymades, from authorship to interference,

the selection of materials from types and quantities of mass-produced resources and rede-

fining the artist's responsibility to the real.

2. Foucault presents us the tools and structures for souci de soi, [care of the self]

and our methodology of constructing an institutional order, a punitive order, the panopti-

con, and the controlled society.

3. The experience of concept art as Fluxus. Through a variety of artists and proj-

ects, the complete experience extends beyond the object. This is not the event circuit. It

is the order: Nam Jun Paik, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, George Brecht, Dick

Higgins, George Maciunas, more.

I hope to discover an etiquette system that transcends cultural constructs, remov-

ing icons that no longer work and establishing places for the new. The etiquette would

function as the structural framework for community, including language and behavior

with responsibility and accountability to the society. Ancient cultures and civilizations

operated this way, with respective agreements to coexist within a framework of differ-

ence. The idea is that the individual begins to realize his role as a contributing member

of the community, and accept responsibility and accountability for actions.

I challenge the audience to find something of themselves within the spaces I con-

struct and allow them to experience time in its nonlinear form.

The intent behind my work is that the audience becomes a co-conspirator in

changing the structure of social space. They should be active participants in developing

language and determining value, with an awareness of community.

My installations are examination spaces; places for re-examining collected time.

They are interactive spaces that operate as a forum for the audience to generate dialogue

and construct meaning based on memory and experience. I use these containers to collect

information, and to disseminate critical dialogue. In order for these spaces to function, the

audience must recognize the architecture and be willing to enter its space.

Let the game begin.

.capture [les motsjuste]


The glass doors open to a large white wall.

Stepping into the entry area, the audience is confronted with the presence of the

space that includes the gallery and the installation of

'play stations'. The space is a 'living laboratory', where

the audience becomes both the viewer and the work.

The first step is to establish a sense of place, then

to evaluate the system and how to maneuver the space.

Navigation relies on memory, experience, and social Figure 3-1


There are no signs, no visual indicators telling us what lies within.

A table sits in the entryway. On it is a lined tablet and a pen, but nowhere for the

audience to sign in. The page is full of handwritten

text, marginally legible because of the overlapping. It

appears that a book has been written all on the same
page. The legibility of the writing becomes illegible in

the repetition, and in the overlapping. When the text

can be identified, it appears that the writing is about


The blank wall is void of information, with

the exception of the monitor just inside the entry. The

Figure 3-22 monitor is mounted just above the audience's eye level,

at a height that feels slightly uncomfortable to the audience forced to acknowledge its

presence. It sits as the guardian, providing select information to passers-by, protecting

the entry space, and confronting the viewer with a sense of disconnected authority. On

the monitor is an image, the projection of the clear vinyl tent inside the 'laboratory'. The

captured image has few distinguishing marks. Neither has it a sense of place nor time.

There is a discontinuity in the way the image reads From the screen view of the interior

space, we question the images. However, we look from the outside instead of in.

The entry wall obstructs the direct passage to the next room, determining the

audience's pathways to enter. Sounds from behind spill over into the entry space. They

are the sounds of voices and machines, indicating the presence of others. A view of the

monitor might provide clues as to the content of the space, or an indication of activity.

The screen image is clear. The camera is suspended over the tent from the ceiling, signi-

fying the value of the occupied space3. The absence of a disruption in the physical planes

of the viewing space alters the reading (and the identification) of the object. It provides

no perspective, and no association with place. The projection of this static image is oc-

casionally disturbed with passing traffic, jarring a viewer absorbed in another time space

with the realization that the image is a live feed. Viewing this clear tent from a topo-

graphical position renders the object unrecognizable. It becomes an object and a space

for examination, with its interior and exterior exposed simultaneously.

The truth as we know it becomes compromised. The object's scale, image color

and viewing perspective are skewed. Anyone entering the peripheral capture space of the

camera is subject to collection. Captured and placed on a screen they too become objects

for observation. The camera is the all seeing eye.

The transmitted images appear to be those of surveillance, but where is the cam-

era? Who is monitoring the space, assuming the position of authority, or acting as a

3Ferdinand de Saussure's idea of the structure of value lies within importance, and specifically ;1,i. 1,
syntagmats. SYNTAGMATIC relations are most crucial in written and spoken language, in DISCOURSE,
where the ideas of time, linearity, and syntactical meaning are important. There are other kinds of relations
that exist outside of discourse.
"Course in General I ,, I 1"'ih. ," in Adams and Searle, ed., Critical Theory Since 1965. p.202-205

voyeur? In order to know, the audience must enter the space and become a part of the

experiment. The room is large and open, with space to move freely. It has an ambience

of familiarity. It is a contained space with stations. Recognizable objects are on display

as the 'working parts' of the machine.

This machine is a laboratory experience (and experiment) concerned with the

observation of behaviors in social space. For this machine to function as both experiment

and experience, the audience must interact, intervene, transgress, or accept the rules of

the space. The viewers become co-conspirators-- developing a common dialogue, then

implementing it to restructure the space.

More specifically, this project is about the investigation of how social spaces are

constructed and managed. It becomes a forum to acknowledge the discontinuity of lan-

guage. Within it, audience interactions with the perceived structure can be monitored.

The audience determines language and codes, challenges existing structures and conven-

tions, and considers choice. Within the container, the audience becomes both subject and

object; the experiment and experience. How will the audience take this experience with

them? How will the information be disseminated?

The contents of this exhibition space are artifacts from an ongoing investiga-

tion of social space constructed around transportable communities-more specifically,

recreational vehicle communities. It is an examination neither of individual behaviors,

nor of the lifestyle of those who travel in motor homes. It is a collective investigation of

how these communities have framed social spaces and etiquette systems while working

within the constructs of transportable space. The experiment includes looking at the way

community and culture has evolved into homogeneous and institutional spaces, and the

behavior (or etiquette) that occurs within public and private space. In addition, it is an

observation of how value and meaning are constructed through memory and experience.

Data is collected, disseminated, then reconstructed and our ideas of play, experimenta-

tion, and experience can be reassembled. It becomes a place where art meets experience,

where the consumer becomes more connected to the power of community and of knowl-

edge rather than to separation, mechanization, and the fear of making choices.

Finding freedom, finding place

"The motor home is freedom," he says. "We can go where we want to, stop when

we want to, stay as long as we like. If we don't like our neighbors, we can move to an-

other location. And we only have to pull in the slide, pull in the awnings, roll in the carpet

and go. How much better does it get than that?"

I met Jack and Betty at a rest stop an hour south of Pittsburgh. I had stopped to

take a driving break and let the dogs out. I was walking around the manicured grounds

where no one lived, looking on the ground for artifacts, or other marks of brief habitation

of this space. Of course, I wound up chatting with Jack. We had a friendly conversation

about the luxury and necessity of travel-he had noticed my out of state tags and asked

our destination. My guess was that it was his way of intervening in the public and uni-

formly designed state operated rest area. Most travelers are in a hurry, or choose not to

be bothered with interaction. The stops are designed for efficiency, not for community

gathering. I had time for the visit. These chance meetings become an excellent resource

for meeting people, gathering information and capturing time. The rest stop becomes the

metaphor for a gameboard.

They were on a return trip to their home in Morgantown, West Virginia. Betty

stepped out of the parked motor home with a plastic container half full of Brach's candy

mix and a Tupperware bowl containing water for the dogs.

They were extremely cordial, without any expectation of anything more than

acknowledgment. I found them to be quite at ease as hosts in this simulated environment.

They seemed quite charming, honest, and right at home in a public parking area. I was

more disturbed by how comfortable I became in this space. Perhaps in my experience,

I began to know what to expect from these rest stops. As I spent a little time with them,

I realized that Jack and Betty fit into what was becoming my profile of the "typical" RV

camper. This profile was informed not so much by physical appearance or age, but in the

way they felt so comfortable maneuvering this transportable space--even with its invisible

boundaries, codes and structures. It appeared as if they were second nature.

They were in partial retirement, and had always traveled for vacation. They had

worked all their lives, built a good business, had a comfortable lifestyle and income, and

prepared ahead for this time when they could travel with fewer obligations. Not ex-

actly gypsies of the road, they had a more comfortable access to their idea of adventure.

Choosing to pack their personal possessions in a drivable container combined as vehicle

and living space, they could go when they chose, meeting others who did the same.

"We love to travel and the people we find along the way," said Betty, "and this is

our vacation house, so we don't worry about where we'll stay."

That meant sometimes in RV parks. Other times it became vagabonding. They

met interesting people and made connections that gave them access to a network that ex-

tended well beyond the realm (including rules and regulations) of physical spaces. There

seemed to be an etiquette that was "universal" within the culture of the RV traveler, but

more important was the community. They wanted to have (and be) 'neighbors', but the

terms are different in this transportable space. They liked the freedom that their motor

home gave them.

The conversation with Jack and Betty lasted only a half hour at the rest area, but

we exchanged contact information and they kept in touch. I let that communication slip,

so contact with them has since been lost.

This particular interaction became the catalyst for a collection of information.

I began to consider the questions that emerged from the conversation. How did these

people make their way into new communities? Or were they new communities at all?

Were they not encoded systems, transferred to a less distinguishable space? Were they

out of place, or repositioned in a new spaces?

This project, as an installation, is a container. It is a place for recollecting, repo-

sitioning and re-examining structured space, reconstructed language, and captured time.

It is the practice of the everyday with all the strategies, tactics, trajectories, and ways of

operating. Anthropologist Michel de Certeau includes these topics in the preface of his

book that is a theoretical and sociological investigation of social space. (1984:xiii-xix)

As an installation, :capture. les mots just analyzes the social machine. The audience is

asked to interact with the work, which is a gallery installation separated into seven activ-

ity and information stations. Within the flow of this 'machine', there are questions that

should be raised. The questions concern a range of topics that include community, com-

mon language, etiquette and behavior, public/private spaces, acknowledgment of differ-

ence, social/cultural codes, and behavior. It also serves to preserve a connection in spaces

that are designed to disconnect or disrupt the human experience.

Through my social interactions with transportable communities, patterns began to

emerge that relate to the way information is collected and distributed. How was it that

people developed relationships, constructed dialogues, discovered each other and found

commonalities in cultures that are materialistic, consumer-driven and homogenous? I

wanted to maintain a level of faith in human nature. In order to do that I had to determine

what faith I had in myself. I had to find my way into a community, and face off against

the machine. What would I do? What would I accomplish? How would I choose to inter-

act? To intersect? To connect with others? To connect with time and with space? I might

find it difficult to evaluate community, if I could not find who I was.

What could I contribute? Then what could I take away from the spaces I was in,

without removing too much?

It becomes about exceeding the object; the way that space is represented by a

mark. Memory, experience and time become constructs of position, language, place,

communication practice, choice, fear, and self-realization. I needed to know how those

components are dispensed in the larger scheme of space. I established my criteria. It was

all about games. The rules would come next.

My interest is in the way language, culture and community become intertwined.

The installation project, as a simulated social machine, touches on similarities and differ-

ences, and how meaning and value might function as a framework of common language

--or whether the truth of a commonality of language is mythl.

My research of the RV culture required a brief immersive into the culture. I

would experience the community within the campground space. That began with secur-

ing the RV and learning the language, the social system, and the practice of community.

Apparatus for intervention

On the outside, they make it look easy.

Just rent this RV and drive away, off to discover new spaces.

Both the advertising online and at the rental and sales sites that flood the land-

scape, make it appear as though one could walk into the showroom, select the perfect RV

(after a quick tour of the interior space), sign the papers, take the keys, load the vehicle

and drive away to a paradise unknown-experienced only by recreational vehicle users.

That is the illusion. Then the reality.

Shopping for just the right product is not such a simple task. When searching for

your RV, there are items to be addressed. There is a hierarchy within the RV community.

This is the order that oversees the structures of the community, and the culture. When

first considering this project as an investigation of the way transportable communities

gather, identify and structure social space, the topic that centered on RV communities

seemed larger. As with any community, there are elements specific to only a select group.

In collecting and capturing information, the separations became more distinct from both

my outsider/voyeur position and from conversations within this community.

The recreational vehicle can be identified as either a travel trailer, popup camper,

or motor home. The differences are obvious, and selected by their owners for various

reasons. What it comes down to is the container, and how the space is arranged. The

most accessible vehicle for use in this project was the motor home. The motor home is

the drivable version of a travel trailer that functions as a contained living space. Motor

home and travel trailer users have more specific requirements for space (private and pub-

lic/physical) than do campers. Campers are classified as either tent or popup trailer users.

RV owners place themselves inside the framework of an etiquette specific to their choice

of community, whether they travel as an entourage or alone. My research is about the

workings of the machine of social operation and the institutionalized practices that occur

within that space. This function becomes equivalent to the strategy of language and se-

miotics. de Sausurre's structure of the signifier and the signified packaged as the motor

home and its associated universe represent both subject and object, signifier and signified.

First comes the research. There are many resources available. With these trans-

portable communities literally always on the road, the most comprehensive resources

were located online: RV blogspots, Q&A pages with email contacts, and chat rooms with

a complete array of topics from selecting the RV, to campgrounds, events, recipes and

decorating. Lists of necessary supplies, mechanical issues, RV etiquette, campground tips

and ratings, and the "everything you should know" section are all available. These items

are posted to keep the RV community informed. Using these resources was the expecta-

tion for the community, and part of the social code. If one expected to be allowed 'inside'

the RV world, these were the first set of rules.

An interest and enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle is all it takes for an invitation to

the club, but that does not equal 'initiation' into either the community or the culture. That

process happens over time, and is about establishing position. It also is about making a

commitment. Clearly to be a committed part of the community, the motor home had to

be owned, not rented.

A comparative experience would be moving into a suburban neighborhood. Pref-

acing the dialogue with readings from J.B. Jackson on the topic of suburban sprawl and

my personal observation, the experience of the suburban evolution affects change within

community space. The established neighbors are friendly and helpful but either attempt

or manage to control the atmosphere (both physical and ethical) by imposing rules struc-

tures, which are generally unwritten. Since a system of knowledge and trust has not yet

been established, the "new" neighbor must make a commitment to the neighborhood in

order to prove value. It is not as simple as joining the community. Your value to others is

based on your contribution, which is not always clearly stated-or not in so many words.

Sometimes it is what is termed, "an understanding". Personal judgments are made on the

grounds of interpretation, most likely without any recognition of de Sausurre's theory of

semiotics. The codes are established, but clearly interpreted on an individual basis. How

would one learn the "game rules"? Thus, the meaning of value has a social relevance that

does not always transfer to a space beyond that singular location, which establishes invis-

ible boundaries. Social theorist Georg Simmel's research focused on the psychological

and physical aspects of social space.5 This experience of transportable space is a visual

recognition of that theory. In order to access those invisible boundaries, we have to know

both the code and the keeper(s) of the code. Already there is a breakdown.

While I had done research, I had yet to become any kind of entity in this culture.

I was willing to enter, but was not sure how to make the next step. What would happen?

In other words, what freedoms could I exchange to become a part of this group? Intui-

tively-or from previous experience in similar social structures--I had an inkling of how

things might be ordered. Foucault's observation of governance6 would be on the mark in

the examination of institutionalized spaces. I imagined that it could be an eventful

experience. Certainly, that part came true.

5 The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and
individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming socialforces, of historical heritage, of external
culture, and of the technique of life. The fight with nature which primitive man has to i. ..'for his bodily
existence attains in this modern form its latest transformation.
Georg Simmel, The Metropolis and Mental Life, adapted by D. Weinstein from Kurt Wolff(Trans.) The
Sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press, 1950, p.409

In my novice state, unwilling to commit to the purchase of a motor home, I could

never become an insider. I was simply an observer-maybe more of an interloper.

The attempt to temporarily infiltrate the culture was a success.

My first act in this process was to visit several RV sales and rental lots to col-

lect information. After visiting several, nine to be exact, what I discovered was what I

expected. The assumption was that only consumers that are interested would stop to look.

The sales staff gave time and space to explore and experience the motor homes. I could

look first, then ask questions if I had them. This gave me an opportunity to experience

how the spaces felt, even though I had never used an RV.

The message from enthusiasts is that RV travel and ownership is affordable and

that it allows the travelers to go at their own pace, explore and discover. The ownership

option is an attachment to material and consumer culture. In addition, many places that

can host such large vehicles are the same in every place, and the discovery takes more ef-

fort and time than most are willing to give it. This part of the experience relates to Mark

Auge's writing on homogenous space, ambiguity and the transportable space. These

spaces are transportation to simulated destinations that have no specific location. Gilles

DeLeuze refers to the same untrue experience of experience, where there is no longer a

referent, as does Baudrillard in his observation that society has moved from the social to

the cultural and the disintegration of stable norms. It appears as if the motor home com-

munity maintains a replica of those norms and values within transportable place. They

cross the boundaries of space, but still become corporate culture productions of what the

consumer wants.

6 according to Foucault, society as a self-ordering entity was the fruit of its disciplinarization. (354) It is
not merely culture that is contradictory, but also agency. The power relations that constitute subjects with
agency also locat them in positions of domination and subordination. Power/Knowledge, 1980. Brighton:
Jon Simons, "Governing the Public: Technologies of Mediation and Popular Culture'", Cultural Values,
Vol. 6, Nos. 1 & 2, 2002. p. 12

"Achieving" access

Returning to the RV shopping excursion, the busy woman sitting behind the desk

looks up curiously at me as if she thinks I should know how the process works. She does

not realize that this is an unfamiliar process. "The doors to them are unlocked. Go in and

look all you want. Let me know if you have any questions, or find one of the guys out

there." She never looked up. I had to figure out the process on my own.

The same experience occurred at every location. I assumed it part of the culture,

and the way that potential owners or renters would position themselves in the space.

They would determine not only what they would need, but also where everything would

be placed. It was a way of entering the space in a simulated version, by the physicality of

the surroundings, and experiencing the orders. It is a way of ordering the space.

"Just open doors and go inside-" and upon getting past the years of the instruc-

tions to 'look with your eyes, not with your hands,' I felt comfortable enough to explore.

I had difficulty overcoming an aversion to the mechanized factory aesthetic. The same

decorator palette in every container. I never knew which one I was in, unless I checked

the water closet. I collected information about compact space management, but wondered

how compact it felt when behind the wheel of one of these rigs.

So how would driving happen? Was there a training, a special license, or at least a

warning system for others on the road?

I asked that question. The receiver seemed incredulous, and asked me why would

I think they needed one? Nevertheless, I have witnessed octogenarians on the road with

oxygen tubes driving the 60-foot conversion busses. I was concerned.

Driving the RV would be an event.

Now there was a skill requirement that could not be acquired on the internet. How

would I learn to drive a motor home? It seemed like something that should be learned

separately--before arriving onsite. At least that was not my perception. There seemed to

be an expectation that magically these behemoths were drivable without ever having been

inside one. I could not quite grasp that idea. Even with experience, it still felt uncom-

fortable and a little scary. Still I had to get behind the wheel of one of these machines.

After researching, looking, shopping, comparing, and asking questions-learning func-

tional parts of the language-- I was certain that I didn't need to own one. It was not

necessary to be in "the club".

However, I would learn how to speak the code, and drive the machine.

The encapsulated space of a motor home is difficult if you are claustrophobic.

The large windows and doors allowed the light to come in, and still felt like private space.

(Although when the lights are on at nighttime in a darkened campground, the contents of

the RV are on exhibition.) In spite of the small space, the motor home seemed manage-

able enough for a short time.

Location. Location. Location?

Choosing a travel destination where there would be a host of other campers and

tourists was a necessity. I wanted to observe behaviors in social space, construct and

maintain etiquette, and experience regulated versions of nature for the purpose of collec-

tion and dissemination. It seemed obvious that choosing a place that would serve all pur-

poses at the extreme level was in order. The destination became the most visited national

park, The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The trip became an event, a collective experiment and experience that included

fellow artists Jeremy Mikolajczak and Alison McNulty. Travel with a group was more

appealing for many reasons, but also would make collecting data and research easier.

The next step would be to begin the actual process.

Online research and bookstores provided the first bit of information on the rental

version. The rest came from the actual experience. The RV sizes and floor plans are

included in the literature, as well as all the other information that is questionable myth. It

never explains how it "feels", but Levi-Strauss, Deleuze and Baudrillard would be proud

of the constructed promotions. The myth, the simulacrum becomes the fact, combining

the language of law with the language of ethics in a time placed only through image.

When renting the RV, there are guidelines and checklists. The legal machine was

overwhelming. A deposit was required and could be made either on the phone or online,

but without a credit card-- no deposit, and no reservation. The travel dates were set, and

a specific destination should be established and listed. The check-in process moved us

from station to station, form to form. Road service came free with the vehicle and so

did catastrophic insurance, but I had to call a certain number to get approval. Did the

cell phones work in the mountains? The rate per day unit was only good for a three-

night minimum with 300 miles included and the fuel was the responsibility of the user,

but the other fluids would be taken care of by the agency if a receipt were turned in with

Sthe keys. Did I have two

forms of identification and a

h credit card-the same credit

card I had for the deposit?

I did, so we could move

on. The user would pay for

incurred vehicle damages

just short of catastrophic.

The agency would clean

Figure 3-3 the vehicle upon its return
but everything had to be just the way it left the lot, which actually meant that we cleaned

the vehicle to turn it in to be cleaned. To have the deposit returned, the sewage tank had

to be dumped, the water should be emptied, all valves were at off position, and the ar-

rival time at the campground should be within two hours of the time departed. The return

time of noon would be expected and an hourly overcharge applied if the motor home

was late. Could I sign in all the potential drivers? They filled out the forms and had their

license cards copied. Pets were allowed with a deposit, but no firearms. The security

deposit would be greater than the rental amount to offset damages, and this had to be

paid in advance. Refunds would be issued if all policies were in compliance. The video

viewing is required and it takes 30 minutes. The walk-through with the agent would

come next. While we were waiting, we could load the motor home that was plastered

with signs that advertised CruiseAmerica, with the large Rent This RV 800 number on

the front and back. It did not as if we would be able to slip into anywhere anonymously.

After the walkthrough and question and answer period, all data collected and informa-

tion given, we were awarded the "Have a nice day!" smile and given the key. Not once

was there mention of driving safety, what to do, how to practice. .even though we were

well-trained in all the functions of the gas stove, the roof air conditioner, the generator,

the sewage and septic system. The legal rental requirements met, our agent returned to

her desk to a conversation with her daughter about a spider in her room. We were on our

own, driving a 25-foot box that we would live in through the city and down into the curvy

hilly roads of the Great Smoky Mountains.

It was all about staying inside the lines.


The reservation was made at the Tremont Resort commercial campground on

the Little River in Townsend, Tennessee, that had full hookups and cable TV access. It

was near the entrance to Cade's Cove. Not knowing the landscape, or the vehicle, or the

culture we would encounter would make this recreational experience open to interpreta-

tion-- and slightly stressful. Our performance within this cultural structure was based

upon standards that were not immediately understood; codes and contexts to which we

were not privy. In entering this community and this culture, it was assumed that the

rules stated were obviously to be followed. Our behavior would be assimilated through

a combination of practice and 'common sense'. We were expected to function within

the provided framework or we would be asked to leave. This was at the discretion of the

campground and without the return of our fees. We had come to observe what happens in

the space, but this time we were the objects of observation. From the beginning, we were

being monitored. The interpretation of language and recognizing the playing field were

the keys: the words were the same, but the language construction was open to interpreta-

tion. We were the outsiders, the 'other', the people to be watched. Foucault's panopticon

was in such full operation and we were the models for the apparatus. Positioned in the

direct view of the office, the caretaker cabin, and on the most traveled gravel strip in the

campground in our motor home with the large RENT 800 number, we were the outsiders.

More than once we transgressed the space, breaking the unknown rules and disrupting

the patriarchal balance, immediately reprimanded and reminded of our position and their

power. First the dog ran circles around the RV (6), then the campfire ring was moved

too far to the left (12), and the clothesline we strung between trees (18) was not allowed.

(The numbers are the campground rules, 20 to be exact.) They monitored the parceled

spaces, constantly passing by in gas powered golf carts as a way of controlling the invis-

ible boundaries that existed between campsites. To keep unwanted guests out of the

area, the shower house was only accessible through a numerical key code. 5644. Some of

the campground monitors were understanding of our beginner status. They were willing

to instruct and advise us, but essentially, it was a punitive system. It seemed as if they

lurked just out of sight, waiting for one of us to transgress, or break a rule, so authority

could be exercised. We were held in check from a distance. Or was that a distance at all?

The idea of renting the motor homes was to gain a level of access to this particular

culture--meeting the community on their own turf and in their environment. The way the

spaces were divided fits into the lot ratio aspect, the plot lines of a neighborhood. The

spaces that were occupied seemed to have boxed boundaries exceeding the space of the

vehicles parked on the pads. There was a way of doing things, of constructing environ-

ments that were private spaces in the open territory. I questioned the terminology of

"open" and of the "freedom" of moving from place to place with specific criteria.

When talking with some of the residents, I was able to gather information about

the etiquette systems and what is and what is not acceptable. Those items were separate

from the rules of the campground space, although there were overlaps. They perceive

their spaces as private, and separate themselves from campers (both tent and popup) in

several categories. A few of the residents I met were also tent campers, who felt the

experiences were completely different.

"The motor home is more like your traveling house. You don't have to pick up

anything-well, you do have to remember to undock from the power and the sewage-

but you don't have to pack away anything before you go. You just get in, start 'er up, and

go. Just don't pull out too fast, in case you forgot to unhook something."

I had met James, who was giving me his version of the differences, when Tom

and Todd came over to return a borrowed tool. I had seen and spoken to them all while

on a tour of camp. Nine people had arrived in the two 48 foot motor homes for a week of

vacation, floating, fishing and hiking. The conversation continued, "then you can carry

your tools, your food, your clothes, and pack a lot of people in. Some of 'em even have a

washer dryer. Those are the big ones. We don't have room."

The campground spaces claimed, each vehicle backed into place, electrical con-

nection made and sewage hookup connected, the machine is in place. Motor home

neighboring feels more like a division of space; like a suburban landscape with specific

entry points, etiquettes and social codes. In the motor home, the physical boundaries are

established, extended by the slide, the awning, perhaps a towed vehicle or bicycles, lawn

furniture, carpet.. .The contents are not completely visible. Private space feels more

private, which is often another version of myth. In following the practice of good camp-

ground etiquette, one never enters another camper's awning space without being invited.

Nor do they visit for long periods. The spaces feel private because the owner is in control

of all aspects of it, or at least that is the mode of operation.

The tent campers establish boundaries by placing objects-or obstacles-at the

perimeter of the spaces they wish to claim. The positioning of objects, direction of the

tent, and the height of obstructions are a part of the private/public space code. The space

is mutable. The tents or campers are transportable spaces, but not in the same way that a

motor home takes on the role.

Transporting the living space

We experienced the motor home as a residence that can travel, while the tent can

take on other forms. The tent has a greater range of accessibility and transportability. The

fabric walls, while so thin they could not protect the inhabitants from physical objects,

enclose the space to allow the experience of privacy. The idea of transportable space

is not so much in the actual transportation, but in the idea of moving from one place to


The drive through Cade's Cove was a surreal experience. Through the window,

we could observe the natural beauty of the landscape while seated at the dining table. We

could see the forests, prairies, mountains, wild animals and a parade of other vehicles

from inside the temporary residence. It seemed as if it was contradictory to view from

one real place into another. We managed our own environment while passing through a

national forest environment that was managed by other people, to be managed in the end

by nature. We stopped in the middle of the route to have yet another experience in social

space-sharing the pristine beauty of the place with other visitors at the tourist center that

catered to souvenir seekers. We collected our own mementos alongside the others. Both

objects and images returned from this trip. Later in our journey, we went to some trails in

the national forest that led to what was billed as a spectacular waterfall, and another hik-

ing trail up the mountain. We parked in designated parking, leashed the animals, locked

the house, and proceeded to the signs that stated no pets were allowed on the trail. There

were other clearly stated directives as to what was and was not allowed. Leaving the es-

tablished trail, and picking up any native 'souvenir' from the natural habitat, leaving trash

in the forest, and disrespecting nature in at least this controlled environment. The trail to

the waterfall, as it turns out, was paved and fully populated. The hiking trail, a dirt path,

was clearly indicated and marked with blue signs. At the base of the hiking trail, while

searching the ground for items of interest, I met two young children and their parents. I

was walking the dogs and looking at the rocks, limestone gravel brought in to keep the

trail from eroding. I was amused by that use of non-native material. The children wanted

to play with the dogs. After talking to them and playing, I took the opportunity to have

them find their favorite rock for my collection. They looked carefully, finally choosing

one each and gave them to me as a memento. I wrote them a receipt on a post-it note and

stuck them to the children. They laughed, looked at the notes, petted the dogs and went

on. Later I was reading the national forest camp guide that said that no one was allowed

to remove any item from the grounds. Ethically, where did I place the children in my

intervention in social space? We want to attach to objects, but we are no longer allowed

to touch them. I wonder who was watching.

The subject is the object

:capture [les motsjuste] is a connection to discontinuous space and language

structure. The gallery becomes a 'living laboratory' with seven stations. In the obser-

vation space, the viewer becomes both subject and object, captured by the camera and

projected to other locations within the gallery. The audience chooses its own experience

of the machine through observation, experience, participation, interaction, play, or by

forming community. How the audience constructs meaning and value will become the

next level of this experiment; a way of reconstructing social space.

I look at the examples of theorists and critics,

beginning with Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes,

Guy DeBoard, Gilles DeLeuze and Felix Guattari.

Marcel Mauss, Marshall McLuhan, Lev Manovich, Jacques Lacan, Gertrude Stein

Nicolas Bourriaud, Jean Franscoise Lyotard, Mark Auge, Helene Cixous,

Jacques Derrida, Frederic Jameson, Jean Baudrillard and Jurgen Habermas

Judith Butler and Lucy Irigary

the list goes on

Perhaps visionaries in their own times who predicted shifts in the architectures of

social space, language, signifiers and the interactive function of communities or individuals.

These become referents, and a reference to time. They observe us, look at the

way we function within spaces. They raise questions about the architecture. I question

the architecture, but cannot have a meaningful dialogue alone.

Identifying the ways we function within spaces, and the fragility of those spaces

in time, are positions that I examine. I question the boundaries and the divisions of pub-

lic and private spaces. Do we need clearly defined space? Do we need our own territory?

Has etiquette been deleted from the social and cultural order?

Order. Law. Rules. Boundaries. Forms.

Does this refer to us? In reference to "us"-- is that all of us? Will we have equal

treatment? And what does equal mean?

The audience as the machine

Once inside the gallery, the audience is asked to flow from station to station and to

interact with the content. An observer hopefully sees each as a part of the working space

that manages to control its own version of time, space, and information. The audience

has been given the ingredients to initiate themselves.

Maneuvering the system and connecting the spaces becomes the game.

1 Just inside the entry to the right, and past the monitor mounted to the wall, sits

a table loaded with collected machines that project film images. There are audiotapes to

accompany the images. They may be switched from player to player. When the tapes are

switched, it gives new meaning to the reading of the image.

The projection machines were once owned by institutions. They were eliminated

or discarded because they were out of date for the technology. Forward progress allows

their presence. The audience may change the filmstrips, or the slides. They may even

choose to bring in their own slide images and project them with the carousel content.

When this happens, the space is activated by the audience. During a studio visit, Rirkrit

Tiravanija suggested that strategy he relates to his own work. The objects may be added

or removed by those who use the space. The composition of the space remains, but the

content changes as does language, value and meaning.

Placed on the table are documents-- maps, books, media and instructions about

the expectations and use of transportable space. The original images (including audio)

are collections from the

trip. The slides and film-

strips, while appearing to

be 'tourist shots' were taken

from video clips, removing

their authority as a docu-

mentary representation.

The images are of the docu-

mentation, but come from Figure 3-4

a displacement. The order was rearranged, the images sometimes manipulated. Do we

ask about the truth? Do we really see the images, or do they not hold our attention? Are

they not powerful enough? Versions of real-time vs. an expectation of entertainment, the

actual machines function in a way that allows the audience to experience tactility, order,

instructions, and a way of learning. As a Fluxus experience, this establishes space along

with time, memory, experience.

In addition to the provided media, an audio recorder sits on the table. The audi-

ence is asked to pick it up, record, and replace the existing tapes in the machine with the

audio collected from the exhibition/installation space, or an audiotape brought in by a

viewer. Altering the sound and the image projection is desired, although there is no guar-

antee that there will be this level of interactive play. In most social space that would feel

like a transgression to interfere with the constructed space. When viewers realize that the

spaces are meant to be altered, there is a perceptual shift and a greater sense of freedom.

The value of the collected information becomes

equivalent to audience input.

2 At the next station is the text ma-

chine, a discarded writing machine (manual

typewriter) with a mechanical dysfunctionality

that makes producing linear or continuous text

difficult, at best. The station is designed for the

audience to leave a text message, but written

as the machine chooses, and by chance. The

are surfaces and images on the table on which

to record the text message. The images repre-

sent other places and recorded time, the blank

pages, time of another nature, time of move-

ment, time of sound.

The text machine is based on John
Figure 3-5
Cage's mesotic poems, which were arrange-

ments of text on spaces that read both horizontally and vertically. In addition, the struc-

tures of time and chance elements are also parts of the text station. Ideas of language and

time converge, stories written collectively, images through text are all potential results of

an interaction with this piece.

John Cage's Compositions in Retrospect

The commercial title will be IVI

3 The information station. Three pedestals with video monitors and DVD players

are placed at equal distance apart. The volume is turned to the same amplitude, enough

to overlap sound from one space to another. The confluence of sound makes the reading

of the information less clear. The interference occurs in space beyond the object. The

viewer has the option to either change the video or the audio level--the remote control

device is on the pedestal.

There is the question of

interference, or interaction,

or a transgression of space.

The collections of videos

are documents of the trip

taken in the motor home.

Not only do they contain the
Figure 3-6
order of the sequences, they Fie

contain all the rules and structures within each scenario. Positioning is important at this

station, testing the authority of the space. Folding chairs are placed before the monitors,

which are mounted on the pedestals at a height that sits just above the viewer's eye level.

The machine becomes the authority. The remote control device as an autonomous control

tempts individual viewers to control the machine. Will they follow the structures of the

space or take control of it? Will they sit in the moveable chairs and keep them in place?

Will they maintain the distance from the screen? Will they become the audience that be-

lieves in the authority of the image? Gilles Deleuze's idea of deterritorialization is tested

in this space, as well as Felix Guattari's idea of the machine, a place where information

either enters or exits a structure.

4 Reperceptualizing image through the body. Stretched across the floor just past

the information station lies a 10'xl2' white screen. It sits behind the wall, blocking the

path of passers by. A soft focused image is projected onto the surface from the ceil-

ing. Viewing the projection space with its slight movements and low, but audible sound,

affects equilibrium. The obscurity of

the images compromises the body's

identification of poison in space.

The content of the video is

from a projection made on the vinyl

tent that sits just to the other side of

the wall. This same video is projected
Figure 3-7
inside the tent on a monitor. The

container becomes different in the projected space, allowing the image to spill from the

projected height, past the body and onto the floor surface.

From there, the audience must choose how to experience this work. The question

becomes how to maneuver and interact with this reperceptualized version of a viewing

space. Spending some time in the space, how does the experience of the image from the

edge affect our senses vs. the image from inside it? The physical nature of the experience

comes from seeing it from the outside then entering the space to engage with it in ways

that are of play.

5 Personalizing mass production.

Another station consists of a juice machine,

where the operator becomes the machine

through the workings of the object/machine.

The object is passive, but the effort placed

on making the product becomes a version of

Figure 3-8 production aimed at the consumer. The food

product (juice machine ) is an experience in controlling the simple machine that oc-

casionally fails to function as designed. Do we stop there? Seek assistance? Attempt to

repair the machine? Achieve the end product? Fresh Florida oranges become an object of

production, but in a more intimate space than the customary mass-production that process

allows. The juice becomes a product of human interaction with the machine. Do we

know the difference between what is produced for the individual and what is produced

for the masses?

6 Mapping mechanism >ketchup The

map on the wall contains pins and strings

leading to nearly 50 rectangular paper contain-

ers. Nearly all of the containers are discolored

with a substance originating from the white

envelops. Each envelope is hand stamped

with a postmark from distant locations; one

sent to each of the fifty American states. A

spotlight is directed at the map, amplifying the

contrast of the dimension, and highlighting the

returned pieces of mail. When these contain- Figure 3-9

ers are experienced--envelopes, containers, objects arriving through the postal system-

- interest is increased. The content of the envelopes is ketchup. They are individual

packets, collected from nondescript homogenous locations during travel. The packets

came from a no less than 19 states. Each packet was numbered, archived, tagged and

mailed to the postmaster in each of the fifty states. The idea plays into homogeneity and

non-place, the institutional practice of sameness. Ketchup can be picked up anywhere.

It is an American condiment. It is used for flavor or cover-up, collectively void of food

value. Why do we need so much of it? Does ketchup define us?

When sending something fragile or liquid through the machine, it must be marked

for hand cancellation. Our postal service is proud of its efficient, but personal touch. But

a service eliminated is the hand cancelled mail. The Post Office made a judgment call-

and thus the broken packets that returned with handwritten notes or within special con-

tainers. Each piece became personalized, rupturing the depersonalized space that typifies

the machine.

For the viewer, the envelopes can be removed from the wall and handled. The

smell of stale ketchup permeates the air nearby, and the envelopes are still slightly damp.

7 Artifacts of consumer culture. A display counter sits in the front of the space,

behind the wall with a surveil-

lance camera pointed at the

back of the case. The projection

is on the monitor just around

the corner, posting a real-time

view of uncertain significance,

S framed as the truth. Inside and

on top of the case are items
Figure 3 10 from the everyday, collected and

placed on display to read as if they have value--the plastic arm of an action figure, three

small rocks from a Cape Cod beach, a package of ukelele strings, keys found on a Paris

sidewalk. The audience may first view them from the front of the case and determine

whether or not to open the doors and remove the items that have become precious ob-

jects, if only by their placement in a display environment. The question runs to the value.

When viewed as an artifact, each object is precious. Upon realizing that an exchange can

be made for them, does the perception of the value change? Nicolas Bourriad pointed

that out in writing about contemporary forms of monument (Bourriaud. 1992: 53). Defin-

ing value, or "work of art lies within a sense of human existence within this chaos called

reality." The sense or meaning comes through a relationship to the space and the viewer.

The vinyl tent is the subject and object of greatest importance.

It serves as a transportable space, with tactile qualities, but passing through time.

The fabric is plastic, clear vinyl, and allows no air to pass through. Outside the tent, the

viewer is subjected to the

view inside, the contained

space, the capsule. It holds

a chair, a sleeping mat, a

pillow, a television monitor

playing recorded images of

habitation in the space, and

significant theory books

on the constructs of space,

the Fluxus Codex, Rela-
Figure 3-11
tional Aesthetics, in/dif-

ferent spaces, Writing Machines, non:places among other references and resources that

are relevant to the architectures of spaces. From outside looking in, the tent is framed, a

static object that seems slightly fetishized in both form and content. The space is accessi-

bly inaccessible. Entry comes from unsnapping the snaps and lifting up the tent to crawl

inside from the bottom.

The experience from the inside

of the plastic dome is the most interest-

ing. It is an inversion, and gives the

sense of the panopticon, as if the walls

prevent the external world from enter-

ing the space. The sound from outside

is muted, suggesting a distance that ex-

ists only psychologically and through a
Figure 3-12

physiological experience. From inside the tent, the world outside continues and it feels as

if there is peace and balance to match the activity beyond the walls.

An illustration of the concept of public and private space, the tent-also the object

of observation from the lobby

monitor-becomes less a division

of moveable space and more a po-

sition of both. Nicolas Bourriaud

in Relational Aesthetics, writes

of "the 'criterion of co-existence',

the transposition into experience

spaces constructed by the artist, the Figure 3-13

projection of the symbolic into the real. According to Bourriaud, a constructed situation is

defined as a situation becoming the intersection of time, place and action.

The tent represents more than a living space. It is a simple space that allows time

for quiet, time for thinking, time for reflection. It is the object of the everyday, a place to

escape, to observe the world, to be alone with our thoughts, construct time. It represents

the binary, the black and white, the is and is not. Roland Barthes referred to the "zero

degree", where the circle becomes the circumference and represents presence. The inner

circle filled, represents absence. The transparent tent and the zero space combine to rep-

resent us. We are the language. We are presence and absence. We are subject and object.

We are the form and the remainder. Foucault sees the panopticon, the structure of social

space where a select group is in control and sits in an all-seeing place where no one else

can find them. Once inside the tent, this comes to mind.

Inside the tent, it feels as if there is no one watching. Protected by only the layer

of fabric, the audience is privy to all that goes on inside. From inside it is as if the walls

7Barthes'interpretation of the Saussurean "zero degree" as a presence but with the absence of all distin-
guishing characteristics. It is J. Hillis Miller zero, that place of slippage where we are uncertain whether
form is either a letter 0 or a digit. We realize it's presence, but don't know how to say what it is.
Claudia Egerer .. ,l, i: Matters", Journal of Cultural Research, Vol. 8, No. 2. April 2004, p. 157-164

were opaque, and that space becomes private. There is something about the closeness,

the plastic, and the comfort that we feel when we have boundaries. We know the rules

then, and it is our choice to follow them.


Product of the experiment

My questions run to the ownership and territoriality of space; space which cannot

be owned. The space within all of us to determine how to use it. Will you use yours to

build or to destroy? Or will you fall to a place between? This experiment, and experi-

ence, allows us to observe behavior while operating inside the controlled space.

We should think of it as Guattari does. We define the machine, the technology of

attachment, to the space. It is the way the space is engaged.

Feel the space, experience being, find truth, find passion, contribute, understand

our role as a piece of the whole, and opt not to disintegrate the mass. Open the contain-

ers. Look beyond what we know.

Make meaning of what we do.

Figure 3-14


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Figure A-1

Figure A-2

The experience of the machine. A video document of the event in the
the audience's interaction and intervention with the project stations.
University Gallery, University of Florida, Gainesville. July 21, 2006.

gallery space and


an ongoing reinvention, jj higgins is a cacophony in the dialectic of life-altering experi-

and the everyday will never be the same.

In a previous lifetime jj was employed in an institutional setting and had access to stu-
dents who became research assistants. Through her teaching she gave that world a new
way of seeing.

jj higgins, is an emerging new media artist, whose work is formed through the concepts
of architecture and social space in constructing installations that become recontextualized
spaces for audience examination and intervention.

A graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA candidate at the University of
Florida, jj's interests collide at the intersection of social behavior, etiquette, surveillance
and the psychological spaces that embody memory and experience.

Within an interdisciplinary practice that includes visual culture, language, theory, sound,
video, performative and interactive elements, the composite is both overwhelming and
accessible to its audience, whose engagement with the work is critical.

jj's interests hover around the way spaces are constructed: the nonlinear methodologies of
time and place, through consumerism, homogenous spaces-the non-place and its refer-
ence to 'non-culture', in the uses of public and private space, and reconstructing the tools
of language to bridge the space between text and image. Site specificity and the non-gal-
lery aesthetic are components of her work, which is an attempt at bridging the gallery and
the community at large through a common language system.