Exhibition curated by Aura Seikkula. The venue for the exhibition is Akkuna Gallery in Lasipalatsi. From remote controlled roller skates which place the artists fate in the hands of the audience, to a machine that proffers soft scoop ice cream depending on the perceived happiness of the user, to a workshop teaching primary school children political spin and the art of successful persuasion, our work aims to de-condition, exposing the potency of existing socio-political systems to manufacture, control and dictate our behaviour by publicly staging social experiments and interventions in which objects serve as the catalyst. We view this approach as a form of ‘counter spectacle’, combining public entertainment with critical pedagogy.
The Lucky 100th Customer
Mixed Media/Live Performance, March 23rd - 28th 2010
'The Lucky 100th Customer’ is a spectacle where we celebrate the 100th person to enter the gallery. The lucky visitor will be Showered with confetti and rewarded with a bottle of Champagne, flowers and a custom made certificate. This intervention addresses the emotional appeal behind classic persuasion and influence techniques, exploiting the aesthetic of incentive based competitions used in retail environments to entice customers into the gallery.
Imagine Being a World Leader
Mixed Media/Performance: Jubilee Primary School, Hackney, London, April 23rd and 27th 2008
Staged around a scaled podium and the accompanying paraphernalia of a political event ‘Imagine Being a World Leader’ uses the fictitious ‘Summit for World Change 2008’ to create the framework for a role-play exercise that teaches primary school children leadership and public speaking skills. Lead by a professional public speaking coach, the workshop and accompanying exercise book incorporate a variety of exercises tailored to teach children key rhetoric rules, body language and voice projection; all ‘vital tools’ widely used by leaders in the art of successful persuasion. By breaking down these techniques into a series of engaging exercises which arm primary school pupils with the same set of skills, the workshop becomes a vehicle to address the artifice behind the methods used by politicians, public leaders and figures of authority, to persuade and win over an audience, challenging the myth of the naturally gifted speaker by demonstrating how in only two school days the eight year old children could be transformed into competent public speakers. The children become the medium through which the viewer can gain a novel insight and re-examine these set mechanisms of control, while at the same time bringing to the children an awareness of how the use of the spoken word can shape their lives. Dr. Zorbas Mixed Media/Performance: St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Edmonton, London, June 2008 Performed in the North London Greek Cypriot community, Dr. Zorbas is a social experiment, which addresses the issue of quantity in relation to Greek National pride. The performance took place in the foyer of a Greek Orthodox Church on a Sunday, where the community was challenged to measure their patriotism through a machine that inflates a balloon depending on how much "Greek pride" their body exudes. It uses galvanic and oscillometric technology to measure the user's reaction while watching a short sequence of film and imagery of proud Greek moments and figures. The reaction is then quantified through the amount of air released into the balloon: The greater the Greek pride the bigger the balloon. As the balloon sizes varied competition began to emerge amongst the congregation, sparking debate and reflection around National pride, identity and belonging.
In Your Hands
Mixed Media/Travelling Performance: London, Linz, Tokyo, Zurich and Zagreb, 2007 – 2010
Inspired by the Stanford prison and Milgram experiments of the 60’s and 70’s, In Your Hands is a performance and accompanying video where remote-controlled roller skates place the artist’s fate in the hands of the audience, creating a situation where ethical parameters are challenged. Humour and spectacle are used to lure the participants into the thrill of the event while distracting them from what is really happening, namely a subversive social experiment which questions how far people are willing to go to seek their own enjoyment. The results, as demonstrated in the video, show the majority of participants diverging from the instructed task and subverting the performance, gaining pleasure from endangering the artist by making him fall or crash. The result is a unique, spontaneous social drama that publicly exposes subtle conflicts in human behaviour.
Mixed Media/Travelling Performance: London, Austria and Zagreb, 2007 – 09
Dr. Whippy is a machine, which proffers soft scoop ice cream according to the perceived unhappiness level of the customer. Employing a voice-stress analysis of the user’s answers to specific questions, varying degrees of unhappiness are measured and the counteractive quantity of ice cream is dispensed: The more unhappy you are, the more ice cream you need.