Borrowing the title from Michael Faraday's 19th century British invention that blocks out external electric fields, for his [SPACE] residency, artist and LuckyPDF member Yuri Pattison is constructing a DIY wave-free structure from scratch and asking artists to occupy it. Broadly selected because they incorporate 'networks, technology and online based research' as central to their practice, over four days the invited guests will respond to Pattison's proposition and test out what it means to create in a Wi-Fi, 3G, TV and radio free zone. YBT launch proceedings with an evening of performances including Felicita's 'Hang Drum Study', alongside the installation of a 'tangible hologram' in the cage.
Richard Sides takes the baton on Friday with absinthe-fuelled audio environments presented in conjunction with live musicians and 'semi-autonomous digital systems' preceded by a screening of Tarkovsky's Stalker to 'loosely frame' the event. For the weekend ATARAXIA (Ben Vickers and Matthew Drage) will be running focus groups on 'how our use of network technology interacts with our emotional stability' and on Sunday Paul B. Davis attempts radio from the cage. We chatted to Yuri about his experimental geek spectacular...
Dazed Digital: How did you come across the Faraday Cage?
Yuri Pattison: I originally became intrigued with a huge metal Brutalist structure in the centre of Elephant & Castle roundabout which, after some research, turned out to be the Michael Faraday Memorial, a monument to the victorian scientist who invented the cage. The building itself is designed to look like a Faraday cage (I have no idea if it actually functions as one however). I was aware of Faraday cages from classic science demonstrations on TV, but this peaked my interest as the building was wrapped in lots of local folklore – such as the rumour seeded by Aphex Twin in an interview in The Face that he lives inside the structure.
DD: Surely we all need one?
Yuri Pattison: Well, some people would make you believe that we do, it's all tied up in 2012 prophesies and speculation about massive solar flare storms wiping out all technology or Electro Magnetic Pulses being used in war scenarios while other people believe that the huge amount of wifi and mobile microwave frequencies around us aren't good. I'm interested in all these elements and made the cage as a proposition, an artist studio devoid of mobile and internet signals – and I think it's quite an interesting space to work within, but I'm letting other people decide...
DD: Is it important that it's a DIY version of the cage? Could anyone make it?
Yuri Pattison: I liked the idea of risk and buying into the pseudoscientific information I had been reading, I liked the possibility that perhaps it wouldn't work. Anyone could make one, all the information is out there in some form or another.
DD: You're all about the Internet – how do you switch off and disconnect? If ever...
Yuri Pattison: I now only rarely have dreams about the Internet, so I guess sleep is switching off. That or time spent on planes and the tube, however that's all changing fast.
DD: Collaboration seems central to your work - how does it sit within the concept for this project?
Yuri Pattison: I think for this project it's most important, the proposition of the structure – an artist work space/studio without Wi-Fi or mobile signals – always needed to be activated by other artists being involved.
DD: Why turn it into a studio space?
Yuri Pattison: I'm interested in the shift in how artists produce work, particularly the generation of artists I'm part of who utilise the the internet so strongly in one way or another in their practice. I also think the moment of production is usually the most interesting part of an artist's work. Once a piece becomes static or put into a gallery context it can often interest me less. So hopefully this way of working will be mutually beneficial, my work being used to produce other work. I'm interested in at least exploring these ideas.
DD: You've got merch! What are Keller / Kosmas going to be designing?
Yuri Pattison: Keller / Kosmas are providing the DoActive MindShield, it's specially designed to shield the head from frequencies from below AM through microwave, including cellular phone frequencies. Lined with sophisticated Polyester/Cotton blended with micro-fine stainless steel fibres for excellent radiation protection. This gives this unique fabric a truly comfortable, natural feel, durability and washability, but with exceptional reflective characteristics. Many people can actually sense the differences in the levels of "mind noise" from RF radiation. The DoActive MindShield provides your brain with a quiet place without interference to your mental processes from RF radiation.
We asked ATARAXIA for their thoughts on how best to disconnect and switch off...
ATARAXIA's advice isn't that you don't, at least not literally. Disconnection is a state of mind. So take a little break from whatever you're doing – just five minutes – but take it with your laptop or your iPhone or whatever. Don't turn anything off; stay logged into your emails, keep your fingers on the keyboard. Take a deep breath, and then close your eyes. Imagine a blank desktop. It is clear, pristine. Everything has been organised into appropriate folders. Enjoy that for a moment. Then in your mind's eye, open your web-browser of choice, and log into your webmail account.
Do it slowly, deliberately; you are choosing to do this. Notice any feelings that emerge; are you nervous? Excited? There is a single message in your inbox. It is from a close friend to whom you feel warm and affectionate. You would like to read it. But do not click on it; not yet. In this moment, know that you could choose to respond, or not to respond. In this moment, you also know that you are only ever as connected as you choose to be. Open your eyes. Emerge back into the reality of your desktop, and realise that this has always been so.
Yuri Pattison: Faraday Cage, Space Gallery, 129—131 Mare Street, London E8 3RH, March 15-18, 2012