RAM/RAR/RAA+RAP(s) at Access Space - Days 1-19/2012

Day 1 Wednesday, 06 June: Go To Wickes

Following a month of R&D at Access Space I move from the media lab into the exhibition space. In the context of my interest in technology and performance/art spending research time at Access Space gave me a frame to engage more intensely with 'computers' in the widest sense. After enjoying valuable information overload it is now time to attempt ordering some data. My intention is to develop processes for negotiating knowledge and understanding (and the lack thereof) in a creative way.
With view to technology expertise at Access Space: I am unable to learn within two months what other people have acquired in knowledge over many years. As an artist I intend to appropriate and recycle bits of information/knowledge/technology - using my own skills and knowledge - with the aim to create new meaning and make new connections. It will be a random and open process.

Day 1 is all about clearing the space and discussing dates and schedules. In search for certain fixings we take a walk to Wickes in the pouring rain - in vain. 

Day 2: Thursday, 07 June: Disadvantage or Having a Laugh

I find a large mirror in storage which belongs to James Wallbank. We install it in the space - it distorts what it reflects but totally changes the foyer space. This does feel extremely random and I wonder 'what it means'? ... It makes me think of the shiny mirrors in Jason Minsky's show 'Advantage' at the Site Gallery up the road: "What gives you a competitive edge?" ... appropriated context ... high tech/low tech and advantage vs. disadvantage? ... Debatable: I have not seen people in Minsky's mirror maze having as much fun as we are having with one distorting mirror at Access Space! : )

Days 3-7: Friday, 08 - Tuesday 12 June: Logging in as /root

The foyer space is a transit space by nature with people constantly passing through. People may leave stuff or 'interfere' - I will work with this. I realize how much the space now looks like a mock rehearsal space and how much sense this makes in the context of my previous work. I would like to lay the floor with something that resembles a dance floor (the black stuff). Working at Access Space I also want something used or recycled. On Day 4 I get lucky - very lucky! The run of 'Betrayal' at Sheffield Theatres is coming to an end and I am able to resource some flooring off the Crucible main stage! This is perfect as it is not only used vinyl flooring but a 'used performance space', too, marked by previous activities. I spend Day 7 at 'root level' cutting vinyl and fitting it into the awkward shaped space that is the Access Space foyer. The result is quite beautiful. 


I am starting to think about the Preview night which is only two weeks away.
Following 'Experiment 1: 30 min. Empty stomach.' I intend to devise another experiment that will test my "human RAM'. In 'Experiment 1', with an empty stomach and for a random duration of 30 minutes, I wrote down as much as I could remember from the random research (RAR) I dipped into over the past months:

RAR: Susanne Palzer/
Experiment 1: 30.min. Empty stomach.
Video still.
"RAM - random access memory ...  RAM loses its contents when energy/computer is turned off. RAM - Nam June Paik ... linear(analogue) vs. digital -> random access ... command line - command line interface - command line interpreter - communication technology ... language - programming language - foreign language - learning languages ... knowledge - knowing - not knowing - transition from A to B = learning - similar to learning foreign languages - machine language - understanding - not understanding - transition form A to B ... performance - in art - in computing - The double/multiple meaning of words. We interpret from the position we are in - knowledge/experiences ... Human memory versus machine memory ... Humans invented computers to increase their 'potential'/brain capacity = tool - tasks, memory + communication - Human memory is RAM - non-linear - as is the artistic process. ... What about meaning? ..."

Day 8-12: Thursday, 13 - Sunday, 17 June: Chocolate enhances memory

I intend to devise an artist talk as a performance. I look closer into the usual format of software supported presentations: there are the speaker, the audience and a slide show that progresses in a linear direction, either pre-timed or by manual prompt. I wonder how to bring randomness and RAM to this set up. I want to work from memory and also relate to the accumulation of knowledge, the gradual non-linear process of learning, and information overload. ... Do I need a hacked/altered version of the software? 

Two brief visits to Access Space to download some video footage I recorded and a chat about RAM gives birth to a new project. Very early on I had the idea of making chocolate RAM for the opening night and looked into food grade silicone mold putty. The Access Space Refab Space is looking for things to produce and the idea of making a mold in the Lab is born. We get excited about the prospect of an Access Space chocolate bar! The link to may own work lies in research at the University of Nottingham suggesting that eating dark chocolate my enhance short term memory. Here is the first 3-D-design for a prototype mold which will be cut out of a block of food safe plastic by a milling machine:

Preview Week!

Days 13-16: Monday,18 - Thursday, 21 June: Setting the scene

I finally sit down and create a blog. I intended to document the progress of the Random Process Experiment from Day 1 but engaging with the space has taken up most of my time so far. Nevertheless an accessible log of the project will be useful to structure some of my findings and ideas and will help to communicate these to an audience.

The Space

I hint at the Binary by dividing the foyer into an (on) and an (off) space - with a thoroughfare between the two - the passage between the outside world and the Media Lab.

I will be performing in the (on) space at the opening night. The (off) space will be an installation that 'resonates the memory of the space': there used to be a recording studio where Access Space is now and apparently this part of the foyer was the vocal booth. The blocked off window to the 'control room' is still there. 

I am interested in the 'inoperative' nature of the space in relation to its history: a previous performance space that lies dormant and could be brought back to life anytime. As a reference to these thoughts I install a microphone that is out of reach and not plugged in. With the rolls of vinyl flooring propped up in the corner it also implies that something may happen here later in the process.

The (on) space is a mock rehearsal space representing the process of devising and making, of trying out. A wooden pallet in place for Performance Test P1/An Artist Talk directly links 'computing' with 'performance': for me, in this context, the terms 'platform' and 'stage' are interchangeable. Likewise the term 'palette' exists in both computing (computer graphics) and art ('the artist's palette') and has different meanings depending on context.

Photos: Susanne Palzer
Vinyl lettering

What holds the two spaces and the project together within the physical space of the foyer, and as a 'show', is the vinyl lettering of the title we produce in the Refab Space. Cutting the letters takes us about three hours and is an exciting but tense operation: we have just enough material to do one test and the final version within a limited amount of time. Putting the letters up on the wall is an equally tricky undertaking but the result looks quite amazing.

Thanks to John Moseley and Jake Harries for helping with the lettering! : )

Days 17: Friday, 22 June: Preview Event and Performance Test P1

The Preview Event points to the blurred boundaries of art production and exhibition. RAM/RAR/RAA+RAP(s) opens as 'a show' but will continue to fluctuate between production space (on) and exhibition (off) as I will continue to work in the space at certain times to further develop the project.

I perform Performance Test P1/An Artist Talk as an interactive experiment to a very mixed audience of artist, programmers and computer enthusiasts. 

(More detailed information can be found on page Performance Test P1/An Artist Talk.)

Photo: Jacquie James