“Machinations in the Library” at LA’s Central Library


While I was at the event, I wondered if the general public thought a microfiche machine was more appropriately placed as part of an art installation than a currently utilized research tool.

While I was at the event, I wondered if the general public thought a microfiche machine was more appropriately placed as part of an art installation than a currently utilized research tool.

During the course of the summer, I’ve explored different artists’ creative spaces and have been an audience to live and digital works that explore the use of technology in performance. It reminds me that this cultural stage is important to document, especially since it seems there is a larger acceptance of and interest in these works.

Yesterday, I went to an event organized by Machine Project and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. It was an evening of art interventions by Machine Project artists reimagining and responding to the Library’s space and collections. Standing in line, I chatted with individuals who similarly were drawn out by the promise of a unique mix of art, technology, and community. As a Southern California newbie, I learned the basics: that the library (constructed in 1926) had a tragically massive fire (April 29, 1986) and despite destruction of items (20% of the holdings were destroyed), the silver lining was a reinvigorated support community and a gorgeous new reconstruction that Angelenos take pride in. I love the idea that for this event, the artists drew inspiration from the library. 

All the performances and installations were upstairs on the second floor, in the Card Catalog area, Rotunda, Children’s Literature, Getty Gallery, and Teen ‘Scape sections. I loved the energy of the crowd that attended. The crowd loved the beer, wine, and refreshments from a free event. Besides the performances, I enjoyed the outside gardens, Special Collections library displays, murals in the Rotunda, and sculptures that honor the values of reading and learning.

Live and streamed performance. http://youtu.be/Aq9mIbJpyBA

Live and streamed performance. http://youtu.be/Aq9mIbJpyBA

The dance/performance group Jeepneys presented Shades of the Jeepneys Planet: Exploring the Known Unknown which took over the entire Teen ‘Scape space. The group of four performers somersaulted, vocalized in a non-English language, played with instruments, and interacted with the physical space. The multimedia installation components included strobe and flashing lights, film projections on walls, computer monitors set up with facial recognition software, live video stream broadcast, and media presented on the public use computer screens in the same Teen ‘Scape section. At one point, one performer repeatedly said aloud “Searching for face” while sitting in front of the facial recognition computer program. While watching the performance, the audience was discovering the physical space through the explorations of the performers, and the performers acted out technology interaction as a new discovery. The live stream may have been seen live in different places, but the computer monitor setup in the library seemed to be on a delay. Although the performers mostly contained their movement to one section of the Teen ‘Scape room, there was no limitation of audience members walking through the same space, interacting with the environment the same way the performers were.

Machinations in the Library was held on July 26, 2014. Other artists included Joel Fox, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Jmy James Kidd, and Tara Jane ONeil.

 

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