phone call

Art Adventures Episode 03

Title Header 03Do you seek out space? How do you create space, and what do you do when you have it?

We all need space.  Space to breathe, space to discover what we want, who we are, space to be, and space to grow.  

MBMWe trekked out on a smoldering Las Vegas summer day to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to find answers.  In the center of the desert town’s most prestigious academic institution we found refuge from the oppressive heat in the Marjorie Barrick Museum.

Immediate relief washed over us as we entered the cool aired gallery.  Slowly we drank in the atmosphere; white walls, an empty reception desk, information pamphlets, and an odd knee-high installation that featured an eclectic mix of random items gathered in the colors and shape of a rainbow.  Behind that display was a quote by Keith Haring:

Art… should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination, and encourages people to go further.

KeithThat seemed right, though that wasn’t exactly the truth we were after.  We ventured further inside and around… the museum was strangely empty, and there was rhythmic thumping, a record skipping over itself, making a course scratching sound coming from somewhere inside the museum’s small indoor theater space.

Upon reflection, the whole scene was a little eerie, and the gallery felt as many galleries often do, quiet, fragile.  Had the hour been later and the wind howling, this tale would surely be one of ghosts and spirits.

We peered inside the small theater; the seats completely empty, the projector on and proudly showing a standard Windows desktop.  The scratching sound played all around in a clashing of muffled ambient noise.

We found the attendant; she was alone in a dimly lit office deeply staring into a computer’s web portal.  The theater of mysterious sounds, it turns out, was running through a series of short videos, the last of which was a piece by Lucky DeBellevue, which turned out to be an 81 minute accidental pocket video titled ‘Sahara.’

We asked the attendant if she would restart the video for us, and she very happily agreed.  We shuffled into the empty theater, sat down and made ourselves comfortable.

Not two minutes into the video, we found our gazes wandering and our minds clamoring for stimulation.  Have you ever been ‘butt dialed?’  Many of us can relate to that experience; your phone buzzes, you look at the caller ID and see that you are getting a call from an unexpected loved one!  

You excitedly answer only to hear a static-like crunching sound and the echo of your own voice dumbly repeat, ‘Hello?.. hello?… are you there?’  For a brief moment you are excited about the possible connection, followed by the moment where your consciousness floats in a curious limbo, then mild frustration followed by inevitable resignation.

Lucky’s piece felt sort of like that except the accidental filming of the inside of his pocket was not directed at any audience in particular.  In the self-description of his work, Lucky remarks that the piece is somewhat a mystery to him and that he views it as a test of endurance because ‘there are stretches in the video where not much happens, and what does happen is not a lot.’

As concise descriptions go, Lucky could not have said it better, and this was indeed a test of endurance… like hanging on the line, waiting in an ever-deepening anticipation for the ‘butt dialer’ to pick up.

The feeling of being an active recipient of an errant and empty call is sobering, and we found ourselves awkwardly smiling  from the shared experience of being helpless riders on a journey to somewhere not even the driver knew; the theater was the pocket, and we were the phone.

The earth shattering absence of stimulation left us longing for release into the cool and calming waters of our smart phones, and in all honesty, we dove in with tremendous abandon.  Reading emails, tweets, and Facebook posts never felt so good.

That’s a difficult admission, though we are quick to acknowledge our shortcomings for the sake of being genuine, and the irony of succumbing to our social media addiction whilst exploring what happens when we actively seek a space away from it, is not lost.

We struggled.  The entire 81 minutes was more than a test of endurance, it was an excruciating conversation about our diminishing capacity to sustain a controlled silence.  There were moments when we were comfortable, and there were moments when we were uneasy.  We knew why we were there (exploration), we knew what we were supposed to do (listen), we just didn’t know how to do it (???)!

Really, the retelling of this adventure isn’t intended as a complex metaphor for the ever steepening divide between our spiritual and mental selves, we all see the dopamine devil in our phones. Rather, the intention here is to lightly belabor a point about the power of open space until the telling becomes its own art.  

Of course, art for art’s sake can leave us feeling a little bewildered, and we are constantly calling out for something tangible, something actionable.  Stay with us for a couple more words and let’s dive an eyelash length deeper.

Whether you believe for yourself that you are a creator, or you believe that you are not, you need space in life.  If you are seeking space, either physical or mental, that is your subconscious kindly asking you to pause for a moment from your normal routine to explore an unknown, create a solution to a problem you’ve been dealing with, create something new.  

capsuleThe space you choose is wholly your own.  Sometimes it’s a physical space like a library, your bedroom, a festival or a concert.  Sometimes the space is mental, like when you meditate, or sing in the shower.  Sometimes it’s that soft nap at your desk after a heavy lunch.

Take a moment to think of where your spaces are.  

This is where you can be vulnerable with yourself, intimate with your thoughts. This is where you can spread your arms and breathe.  If you feel a sharp release, a snap, don’t be alarmed, you’re awakening the artist inside.  When you choose to honor the internal call for space, you choose to grow. Thanks Lucky.

Now that there’s so much room for activities, it’s time to play!

Where are your sacred spaces?  Where do you go to create solutions? Share your thoughts below, or maybe just let us know how we can do better.

Thank you for reading. Episode 4 »

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