8 DEAD ENDS
8 Dead Ends was presented at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in 2014. In the style of Fluxus performance, each actor was given one of eight scores, which they performed simultaneously in an open atrium where audience members could walk around and interact with them. The aim was to create an unsettling cacophony of repetitive actions reflective of our physical relationship to technology. Audience members shared space with actors repeating trance-like gestures, instructed not to stop or interact with the outside world. By looking in at these strange rituals, the audience was called to consider the mind-numbing seduction of devices (phones, computers, etc.) and the alienation of our attachment to them. The performances lasted for 90 minute in which actors were instructed to constantly repeat their assigned score for the duration of their shifts.
The one exception was my own character, a museum guard, whos only job was to ensure that no audience members pressed an 'Easy Button' seductively placed on a white pedestal. A number of audience members were overcome by the temptation to press the button and made attempts to scramble around me as I protected the button. Ironically, this resulted in an actual museum guard intervening to instruct both the audience members and myself that we could not make sudden and fast movements in the museum. Eventually I was asked to cut short this segment of the performance entirely. The 'Easy Button' situation calls us to consider the human urge to transgress boundaries (i.e. "push buttons"). Conversely, it shows the predictability of humans to seek instant gratification "at the push of a button". Is our attachment to technology an addiction to a zombifying dopamine rush that leads to nothing or is there potential for transgression into new ways of interacting that challenge social norms and expected dynamics?