Friday, May 18, 2007

Vast technology improvements

This is a close up of the brilliant rigging that Steve, a docent at the museum, volunteer, retired rabbi, and the best assistant I could ask for, engineered. He drove me to Lowe's on Day 1 for PVC piping and couplers. Remember the ghetto fabulous cardboard that I glued and painted last year? This is like version 10.4, and that was worse than Classic. Anyhow, the idea was to drill holes at the ends of the pipe for wire that would then be strung taut to mimic the curve I wanted, and then wired into the stable ceiling beams at the Fuller Craft Museum, a beautiful place with a dynamite team. I was impressed. You know a place is good when the board, staff, and volunteers are all committed and reliable.

Day 1 was a little slow, just getting to know the site and the people and trying to fathom how this piece would fit the space. But Sue, the preparator, said that the rigging was a lot to get done for the day. Besides, I was so exhausted from traveling and not sleeping enough (I had to get up at 6:30am), that if I tried hanging on the first day, I probably would have fallen out of the Genie. That contraption made installation A MILLION TIMES EASIER. It's so nice to just press a green button and then suddenly be 18 feet in the air.

Jessie, the exhibitions manager and my keeper (she was generous enough to drive me to the museum every morning from her place in Boston), drove us to Lowe's after work, and then to Dick's Sporting Goods. I learned that 1. Lowe's does not carry monofilament (this baffles me), and 2. Fishing videos sound like porn (I was running down aisles looking for the fishing line, and wondering what all the heavy breathing and grunting was all about: oh, just the video at Dick's). Back in Cambridge, where a generous friend of a friend was putting me up, I walked to Central Square to get groceries and called Tam for more talking down.

Day 2 was nice and quiet b/c everyone was working on the amazing, gorgeous Robert Brady show (wood sculptures) in another gallery. But I had a huge crisis of faith as I got further into the hang, since I was trying to extend the tower four feet. I knew I wanted it to be open, and have "missing" parts, but I had imagined it differently. I didn't have the extra bricks that went on the inside walls (they're still living under Tam in Chicago and I spent too much time kicking myself for not shipping them. But then I recalled how expensive a crate THAT size would have been). So I left in some despair, though Sue talked me down before I left. Jessie and I then drove through black clouds and a major thunderstorm, and I commuted to the Tufts area to meet up w/Ching-in for dinner.

Day 3 was hard. I got to "sleep in" until 8am, but was so anxiety-ridden that I couldn't fall asleep, woke up in the middle of the night, and got up before the alarm. So I was still bleary and reeling from nightmares. I finished up with the Genie, hauled in the ladder, and called Gili after lunch so that she could tell me to get a grip. I was able to make some important decisions by myself, and then called it an install. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of myself doing any work, so some of you might wonder if I did any work at all, but I swear that I did this (yeah, blue cast: I'm way too tired to color correct).

Terttu calmed me down some at the end of the day, and reminded me about something my advisor told me last year that I had forgotten: it's a living, breathing piece. I can't make it do what I want to do. It's out on its own. This is the first major site-specific installation that I've remounted, without a performance component (though when I mentioned the original comic drawing to Steve, he asked, "can you do that for the opening reception?" and I recoiled in horror). I've learned a lot about the process, and myself. I'm completely spent, but once I recharge, I'll share some more thoughts about what I've re-learned.

What I wish I had there: music
What I needed desperately: hugs and trusted friends
What I didn't get enough of: dark green veggies, sleep
What I got too much of: myself
What I read: Patti Smith's A Cab Called Reliable and Don Lee's Yellow
Who I saw after getting off the Fung Wah bus this afternoon: sleepy Gili

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