STABILITY: disaster log

The viewer in a gallery handles a small cube. A projection shows an animated world that is implied to exist inside the cube. The physics of the real world are applied to an animated world: the viewer, by manipulating the cube, can inflict dramatic changes. The animated character residing inside the cube relentelessly gets up and restores his world destroyed by forces outside his understanding. When the cube is put back on the pedestal and achieves ‘stability’, the animated character records the disaster in his Disaster Log Book and goes about rearranging the room. Each arrangement he arrives at is unique.

Software for Stability was developed with James George.

The cube, functioning as a play object, becomes in this installation a transitional object: a thing which binds internal and external realities together. Objects of play have a special place in our lives: they are stand-ins for worlds which we can handle and manipulate. Play enables us to “step outside of and manipulate interpretive frames from the perspective of another frame”. We engage in metaphorical thinking whenever we play, and often an object, in this case the cube, transitions us into that space. Stability suggests that our interpretative frames are just that: constructs which can be rearranged infinitely.

The character’s Disaster Log is an effort to analyze and figure out the rules that govern his world. At the core of this concern is desire to control it. It alludes to our recorded histories, pursuits of science and culture as efforts to understand, interpret and control our reality.

Ian Bogost wrote an interesting article about gestures as meaning. He discusses gestures used in games design required for the player to interact with the game world. The article offers insights that relate to the interactive art works as well, and to Stability in particular. Through the example of the ‘Train’ game, he discusses how trivial gestures, such as picking or moving objects might ‘take on multiplicities of meaning in the minds of players and spectators alike’. The familiar gesture re-contextualized in the game can be transformed into reflective devices as the game ‘not only forces the player to manhandle people, it also forces him to figure out how to do so’ and creates ‘a circumstance in which the player’s gestures are allowed to reverberate uncomfortably’.