Limits & Demonstrations Fulltext

intro

title card: `Basement Puzzle #2 (artist, sunset, and horse)`. 1976. Plaster and wire.



emily: What do you think she means by "puzzle"? (puzzle)
emily: Can you read the covers of these books? (books)
emily: Solemn. Sad. (solemn)

puzzle

bob: Yeah, weird. I guess it's something you can solve?

ben: They must be symbols. Artist. Sunset. Horse. Or it's an anagram? Or, like, a ... code?



emily: Or it's just a misdirection. (solemn)
emily: Maybe it's not a puzzle, but it's just `about` a puzzle. (solemn)

books

ben: Yeah, it's kind of hard to ... I wish we could get a little closer ...

bob: I don't think they're real books.

ben: No, they're real. Look, that one says ...

ben: No. You're right. It's just scratched-up cardboard.



goto solemn

solemn

bob: Maybe it's a "puzzle," but there's no right answer. That is kind of sad.



goto end

intro

title card: `Spinning coin, suspended, correcting for angular motion`. 1976. Found materials.



emily: What a lonely image. (lonely)
emily: It feels so strangely alive. (alive)
emily: `(To Ben)` Didn't you have one of these?. (ben-microfilm)

lonely

bob: The image on the screen? Or the whole thing?



emily: On the screen. That coin. (coin)
emily: Yeah, the whole thing. The microfilm reader, that flickering coin. (gestalt)

alive

bob: Yeah, like it's about to fall over.



emily: You mean the coin's about to fall over? (coin)
emily: You mean the whole thing's about to fall over? (gestalt)

coin

ben: I've been looking at the coin, too, but I can't really tell what kind of coin it is. My uncle used to collect coins, did I tell you that? He was crazy for them. Really obsessed. This coin actually doesn't look real. I think it's plastic.



gestalt

ben: Yeah, kind of anxious, right? I feel like we startled it, and now there's this uncomfortable ... pause.



emily-final



emily: Nice use of materials. (end)
emily: Yep. Pretty dark. (end)
emily: I feel really drawn to it, but ... (bob-final)

bob-final

bob: It just makes me nervous.



goto end

ben-microfilm

ben: Oh yeah, I did have an old microfilm reader like this. I got it at a garage sale. Couldn't figure out what to do with it.

bob: That's my whole shed — just a bunch of weird obsolete electronics I thought I might use.



emily: At least it's not in a landfill. (landfill)
emily: Someday! (someday)

landfill

bob: Yeah. Who knows what kind of chemicals they put in those things. What's the half-life on microfilm and weird, old electronics?



goto ben-final

someday

bob: Yeah, maybe. Or maybe I'll just sell them for scrap when the price of lead and plastic goes up.



goto ben-final

ben-final

ben: I guess everything gets broken down eventually.



goto end

intro

goto try-again [if try-again]
goto first-time [if first-time]


try-again

ben: Should we give it another shot?



emily: Sure, let's try it. (start)
emily: Let's just move on. (end)

first-time

title card: `Overdubbed Nam June Paik installation, in the style of Edward Packer`. 1965, 1973, 1980. Magnetic tape, hand-held tape playback head, speaker system, voice of the artist, computer-synthesized speech.

ben: Oh, I read about this one. It's interactive.



emily: How does it work? (how-does-it-work)
emily: What's it about? (whats-it-about)

how-does-it-work

ben: It's a bunch of old tape, and you run this tape playback head along it. And just listen to the recordings, I guess?

bob: Let's try it out. I think you start in the middle.



goto start

whats-it-about

ben: It's an installation by a different artist, made of audio tape, and then she took it and recorded over all the tape with her own sounds. You can listen to it by running this tape playback head around on it.

bob: Let's try it out. I think you start in the middle.



goto start

start

(As BOB drags the playback head along the tape, a woman's voice issues unsteadily from the speakers.)

lula: We start in the middle. Donald and Joseph are in the hallway. I am in an office. The walls are lined with filing cabinets. A few drawers hang open. The door is ajar.

lula: A massive computer looms in the corner. There are some punched cards on the floor.

(A synthetic voice recording, spliced awkwardly into the tape, lists out options in monotone.)

computer: ~To examine cards, rotate thirty degrees and advance seven inches. To leave room, rotate seventeen degrees and advance four inches. To activate computer, rotate two-hundred degrees and advance fifteen inches.~



emily: Examine cards. (examine-cards)
emily: Leave room. (hallway)
emily: Activate computer. (start-activate-computer)

examine-cards

(Bob moves the playback head to another strip of tape.)

lula: Encoded in the holes punched through these cards is a first draft of the poetics sub-system. I can't read punched cards by sight. Donald can, I think.

lula: Anyway, this version was pretty underwhelming.

computer: ~To leave room, rotate seventeen degrees and advance four inches. To activate computer, rotate two-hundred degrees and advance fifteen inches.~



emily: Leave room. (hallway)
emily: Activate computer. (start-activate-computer)

start-activate-computer

(Bob moves the playback head to another strip of tape.)

lula: So loud. I love it. I am now holding two punched cards. On one of them, Joseph has scribbled a note: "caves." The other is blank.

computer: ~To insert caves card, rotate eleven degrees and advance two inches. To insert blank card, rotate ninety-five degrees and advance fourteen inches.~



emily: Caves card. (caves-entrance)
emily: Blank card. (hallway)

hallway

(Bob moves the playback head to another strip of tape.)

lula: I am standing in a hallway. The walls are a blank beige. It's just after winter quarter, but before spring, so there are no students around.

lula: Usually, these walls would be papered with flyers announcing new student clubs, looking for roommates, selling old textbooks ... But now they're blank.

ben: Seems like it skips around a bit.

lula: Donald is here, scribbling on a scrap of graph paper. Joseph is here. He can hear me talking into this tape recorder —

joseph: `(Distant)` You sound like an anthropologist, Lula.

donald: `(Distant)` An ant apologist?

joseph: `(Distant)` An entomologist! `(Laughs)`

computer: ~To lean on Joseph's shoulder, rotate seventy degrees and advance eleven inches. To take Donald's hand, rotate two-hundred-and-seventy degrees and advance two inches.~



emily: Lean on Joseph's shoulder. (beginning-joseph)
emily: Take Donald's hand. (beginning-donald)

beginning-joseph

lula: This is the beginning of the tape. I'm at home, alone. Joseph just left. We had an argument, but ... it'll work out.

bob: Wow, this is kind of personal.



emily: I feel a little embarrassed. (embarrassed)
emily: What time period do you think this clip is from? (time)

beginning-donald

lula: This is the beginning of the tape. I'm at home, alone. Donald just left. We had an argument, but ... it'll work out.

bob: Wow, this is kind of personal.



emily: I feel a little embarrassed. (embarrassed)
emily: What time period do you think this clip is from? (time)

embarrassed

ben: I know what you mean, but ... she put it out there.



goto home

time

ben: The title card says "1965, 1973, 1980." So if this is the beginning, I guess that's 1965? And the first one we heard was 1973, then? The middle?



goto home

home

lula: I usually start here, in my home, whenever I'm sketching out a new piece. I start by just looking around.

lula: My closet door is open, and I can see a few sweaters and a dress I like ...

computer: ~To go downstairs, rotate eleven degrees and advance four inches. To think about dresses, rotate one-hundred-fifty degrees and advance fifteen inches.~



emily: Go downstairs. (home-downstairs)
emily: Think about dresses. (home-dresses)

home-downstairs

lula: I've stopped halfway down and I'm sitting on the staircase. The tape recorder is on the carpeted step next to me. I'm leaning against the wall, holding a glass of wine, looking at some framed photographs on the wall.

computer: ~To fall asleep, rotate two-hundred-thirty-five degrees left and advance twenty inches. To look at a photograph of a national park, rotate seventeen degrees and advance six inches.~



emily: Fall asleep. (fall-asleep)
emily: Look at a photograph of a national park. (caves-entrance)

home-dresses

lula: It's kind of a terrible dress, actually. Denim. The breast is embroidered on one side with a crude sketch of a tall man in working clothes, but one of his legs is obscured by the lapel. I guess I just like the cut and the color.

lula: I could fall asleep, sitting on the bed here, holding this tape recorder and this glass of wine. It's a good thing I'm not holding a cigarette. I think I'll go for a hike tomorrow. Maybe Donald would like to ...

computer: ~To fall asleep, rotate seventy degrees left and advance nine inches. To think about hiking, rotate one-hundred-fifteen degrees and advance seven inches.~



emily: Fall asleep. (fall-asleep)
emily: Think about hiking. (caves-entrance)

fall-asleep

lula: I fell asleep for a moment. I had a dream about a cave. I'm with Joseph and Donald. We're walking somewhere, looking for a cave.



caves-entrance

lula: We're on a dirt trail, in the park. Or, well, it's not really a trail ...

donald: `(Distant)` It's a trail!

lula: It's more like a tendency. There tend to be fewer plants here, on the path we've been walking.

(Walking sounds.)

lula: Now, we're walking at the edge of a massive hole. The dirt gives way to mossy rock as the ground sinks into darkness. Joseph and Donald are following a rope down into the cave. They have computer equipment tied to their backs. So do I.

computer: ~To enter the cave, rotate sixty-five degrees left and advance four inches.~



emily: Enter the cave. (enter-cave)
ben: That's the only choice? (cave-only-choice)

cave-only-choice

bob: Yeah, that's the end of that one. So, sixty-five degrees ... four inches ...



enter-cave

lula: That's the last trip. So everything's down here now ...

donald: `(Distant)` The final resting place!

joseph: `(Distant)` Don't be so morbid.

computer: ~To remember a fond gesture, rotate one-hundred-eighty degrees and advance twenty-three inches. To regret a harsh word, rotate twelve degrees and advance six inches.~



emily: Remember. (conclusion-remember)
emily: Regret. (conclusion-regret)

conclusion-remember

lula: It's morning now. I'm in the car. I'm driving to work. This is the last recording I'll make on this tape, and then I'll drop it in the mail tomorrow, and then who knows.

lula: I've been recording onto this tape for ... fifteen years, I think? A lot of other things happened. So. Here is a story:

lula: When I met Donald and Joseph, they were both students and I was in a band performing on campus. They came to my show, and then we met at some bar and had a few drinks together. Joseph wanted to impress me, so he stole a metal cocktail tumbler and gave it to me.

lula: We got kicked out, wandered drunkenly until morning, and finally ended up at a diner. And now I use the tumbler to store extra pens on my desk.

lula: So, I'm almost out of tape. I guess I'll ... I'll just let it run out while I drive.



conclusion-regret

lula: It's late morning now. I'm sitting at my desk, on my lunch break. This is the last recording I'll make on this tape, and then I'll drop it in the mail tomorrow, and then who knows.

lula: I've been recording onto this tape for ... fifteen years, I think? A lot of other things happened. So. Here is a story:

lula: The first time I moved to Mexico, I stayed there for three years, and I had no contact with either Joseph or Donald in that whole time. They each thought I'd done it to spite them. Maybe I had, in part. But I don't think they ever appreciated the community I had in Mexico, or ...

lula: Anyway. When I came back, I didn't call them or visit the university. I ran into Donald completely by chance at a hardware store. He asked me why I hadn't called, and I told him it hadn't occurred to me.

lula: So, I'm almost out of tape. I guess I'll ... I'll just let it run out while I eat.



conclusion-end-of-tape



emily: No instructions? (no-instructions)
emily: Hey, go back a bit, maybe we missed something. (go-back-confirm)
emily: I guess we should stop then. (stop-confirm)

go-back-confirm

bob: Really? We've gone so far.



emily: Yeah, let's go back. (go-back)
emily: Is there anything else we can do here? (no-instructions)
emily: I guess we should stop then. (stop-confirm)

stop-confirm

bob: Do you feel done? I don't.



emily: Yeah, let's stop. (stop)
emily: Actually, let's go back a bit. (go-back-confirm)
emily: Is there anything else we can do here? (no-instructions)

no-instructions

bob: No, that's the end of this tape strip.

ben: I don't think we ever reached this long one at the top here. Is it cheating to skip over there?



emily: I won't tell a soul. (cheat)
emily: Maybe we missed something. Can we skip back a bit? (go-back)
emily: Let's just stop here. (stop)

go-back

bob: OK, sure.

(Bob moves the playback head to another strip of tape.)



cheat

(Bob moves the playback head to another strip of tape.)

donald: `(Distant)` Think of our work! Our research!

joseph: `(Distant)` You'll die in these damn cold caves! And what about those men? You know they'll come back.

donald: `(Distant)` We'll go deeper, that's all — they'll never find us.

joseph: `(Distant)` Did you hear their voices? They're not ... they'll find you. But not me. I'm going back to the surface.

lula: Stop! Your stupid fight is ringing through the whole damned cave. Joseph is right: we can't stay here. I'm leaving, too. But I'm not going back to the surface. I'm taking my station wagon and I'm heading down the |Zero|.

joseph: `(Distant)` You'll be lost forever!

donald: `(Distant)` But we need your voice for the machine! Lula! It only recognizes your voice!

lula: I'll send you this tape when I'm done recording. I'll put it in the mail. And then you can see what your damned machine does with it.



goto cheat-end

stop

ben: OK. I feel unresolved about that.



goto end

cheat-end

ben: Oh.



goto end

intro

bob: Yeah, I guess I'm ready to go.



emily: I'd like to look around a bit more. (end)
emily: Yeah, this show is exhausting. (endgame)
emily: Yeah, I need to get to work anyway. (endgame)

endgame



goto end

intro

wall text: LIMITS and DEMONSTRATIONS

wall text: A Lula Chamberlain Retrospective.

wall text: Marking the first major public showcase of her work in over twenty years, this retrospective exhibition of work by pioneering installation artist Lula Chamberlain comprises a diagonal slice through time, place, and form.

wall text: The pieces on display here were individually debuted over a period of thirty-five years, designed in Chamberlain's various homes and studios between her beloved Mexico City and her native Elizabethtown.

wall text: They represent a range of scale and impact from the intimate warmth of `Vertex Texture Fetch` to the infamous `Visage`, the latter of which requires a vertical clearance of over thirty feet.

wall text: Yet these works share a confounding legacy: in each of their debut exhibitions, they were nearly impossible to install.

wall text: Galleries and museums balked at the scale, power requirements, and highly-skilled labor involved in maintaining these works for display. Some of their debuts collapsed under the weight of logistics, only to be successfully executed much later.

wall text: And so, just as they describe the outer limits of Chamberlain's range as an installation artist, the geographical edges and vertices of her itinerant home life, and the beginning and end of her distinguished career, the works on display here also trace the extremes of our capabilities and the frontiers of our patience as both viewers and exhibitors.

wall text: Are we capable of viewing these works as they were meant to be viewed? Do we even want to be?



goto end

intro

title card: `Vertex Texture Fetch (Tree, television, and suspended cathode ray tube)`. 1968. Found materials.



emily: Bob, this seems like your kind of thing. (bobs-thing)
emily: The picture on the TV ... (tv-picture)
emily: Nice plant. (plant)

bobs-thing

bob: Oh yeah, I love this one. So domestic, but so weird. Guess I'm just really into "weird domestic," these days.



goto end

tv-picture

ben: What is that ... it's a lighthouse?

bob: No, it's a weathervane. Or a windmill or something ...

bob: ... is it a lighthouse?



goto end

plant

ben: It is a pretty nice plant.

bob: Yeah, but ...



goto end

intro

title card: `Visage`. 1984. Unknown media.



emily: What is that made of? (material)
emily: What kind of machines are those? (computers)
emily: I find this profoundly moving. What do you think, Bob? (bob-statement)

material

ben: It's a mystery. Looks like ... ribbon? Bandages? Oh, have you seen `The Invisible Man`? It's —



computers

ben: Looks like ... yeah! Teletype terminals, and an old PDP tabe cabinet, I think. Or something from that period. My uncle used those to —



bob-statement

bob: "Slice a visage to build a visage. A puzzle to its owner."

ben: ... what?

bob: It's a poem I read. I think it was written by a computer.



emily: Sounds like it ... (end)
emily: I think it's lovely. (end)
goto end