Starting today I’ll be posting interviews I’ve conducted with artists participating in the live video/performance art show I am curating, presenting itself in it’s entirety and in REAL LIFE 3D SPACE this weekend. Not only are the videos colliding, so are the performers- meeting minds from Berlin, Canada, Colorado, the 310, 818, and 323, holler! This will also give me a great opportunity to showcase (you should really you know… come to the event) everyone’s work because it’s an awesome roster of young artists crazy enough to come and do this. I also want to thank Megan, my partner in this comedy duo, and all the artists as well.
Megan May Daalder is an instigator of social experiments and a self-styled guinea pig. She has a BA from UCLA’s Design Media Arts department, but most of what she knows has been passed down from her radical Dutch ancestors and a Texan pinball wizard.
First off, let’s start with a survey. There are a lot of terms floating around that describe the ballpark of your media (video / performance art). In 4 words or less, describe in your own words what it is you think you do. How much is “video” and how much is “performance”?
Conceptual video performance / non-committal.
How did you come to focus on your current medium/media? What’s motivating you?
I kinda just fell into video, then decided experimenting with video in a social context was more interesting, so I painted myself red, danced around with pedestrians downtown and chroma keyed us together in post. So I kinda fell into performance, but kept the link to video. The thing that holds it all together is the experiments part. And the ideas. My next video-performance involves electronics, and after that I’ll be working on something way more narrative where the “four pillars of civilization” go to dinner together. That’ll be a pretty different adventure. So, the medium always follows the idea. I have no idea where my ideas will lead me, maybe I’ll become a biologist or a plumber.
Your collective works all have different levels of audience interaction. What is the relationship between you and the viewer? What’s the difference between the LIVE viewer and the viewer behind the screen? What sort of role does the two you play in relation to the other? Do you think there is ever a chance that documentation will ever take over live performance? Btw, HOW important / successful do you think documentation is in bringing your performance to the audience that isn’t physically present? Okay, I realize this is definitely several questions crammed into one.
Performance is like the original, inevitable interactive art form, the feedback between you and the audience totally affects the outcome. When it works, it’s a highly efficient form of short-range, two-way communication…it’s a different kind of information transmission than what documentation (or the current internet) allows for. I wrote an essay about it once.
Performance art was touted as being more real than other forms of art because the presence of the artist and focus of the artist’s body is actually what gives the impression of “the real”. How scared are you when you get on stage? You’re essentially “naked” in front of your audience, before the judge of time, and LIVE snafu’s. How does the fear aid in your performance?
It is terrifying, but yeah it’s the margin for error or excellence that makes it so exciting, it’s a suspenseful narrative by default. I think that edge of discomfort & unpredictability is why I got interested in it in the first place, both as a viewer and a performer.
Where do your characters come from?
For this show, Karl Sim’s Virtual Evolved Creatures, which was an early experiment in artificial life that used Genetic Algorithms and physics simulators to generate creatures that would walk, swim, or jump in virtual environments. There’s something really provocative about the kind of identification these creatures conjure up in just about anyone who sees this video, including myself.
How closely do you think what you do is connected to technology?
I think conceptually, connected like a baby bird to a worm, in execution, the techniques I use (electronics, video, performance) are pretty ancient. I’m really interested in speculative technology too and hypothesizing what could be.
What do you think about the idea of “re-hashing” art?
Explicit re-hash is pretty mind numbing.
But I think it’s logical that performance art, for example, has been getting a lot of hype lately (Performa’s going strong, Marina Abramovic is literally re-creating her pieces at MoMA, and a few key characters like Dawn Kasper and Adam Overton are giving the LA performance scene a boost). I’m not as interested in performance that repeats strategies from the 80s verbatim, but in the end, it’s about individuals and if what they’re doing is gripping, than it’s relevant.
Or perhaps “art” has seen its heyday and should be switched out for some other creative ambition that has yet to be named.
And of course, what do you think about the current & future Internet? Do you think it holds the fate of mankind in its web?
I think the Internet is a metaphor that should bleed over more into the physical domain. I’ve always been drawn to “the internet of things” idea – distributed sensor networks that can act on the physical world and, practically speaking, help us regulate energy usage, predict apocalyptic scenarios, and generally make the man-made world more dynamic.
The other option is total immersion, nano-bots that tickle the brain to make us feel like we’re physically present in a shared virtual environment. Depends how far into the future we’re talking, and which direction people are more interested in going.
Ultimately, I think the Internet has been a triumph of technological rebellion and I have no doubt that the rebellion will ensue elsewhere if the literal, cable-company controlled Internet becomes more of a corporate utility (which it probably will).