Friday, May 11, 2007

For A Small and Changing Room

Dear Passenger, In keeping with classical 20th Century practice, this elevator has been retasked into a post modern sculpture for the Festival of Nations. We apologize for any conceptual or practical inconvenience this may cause. How to enjoy this sculpture: 1. From the outside of the sculpture press a button. As you are reading this you have already probably done this or someone has done this for you. 2. The elevator is a unique interactive sculpture in that it promises, like the highway and the gas chamber, the possibility of being somewhere else. 3. When the doors open, someone may magically appear already inside of the sculpture: this may even be someone you love, despise, or more likely, have no idea who they are, other than that they live in the same building. Act as appropriate. Do not blame the sculpture, which has, like life, simply presented these people to you. Indeed, when in doubt, this sculpture suggests you simply act as if they are somehow not there. 4. Press a button. Any button. If you have a large capacity for joy, experience and button pressing, press them all. 5. As the elevator briefly accelerates downward you will briefly experience a mild sensation of free fall, which you can exacerbate by jumping up. Reflect on what it means to be inside of a reference frame. Suggested topics: Newton, Mach, General and Special Relativity, the fact that you are doomed to die on this planet. 6. Considering this, this sculpture encourages you, if you have a sexual fantasy involving elevators, to just go for it. If your fantasy is very complicated, please remember that other people must use the elevator. 7. This elevator does not play music. Consider the implications. 8. You can, however, make your own music. If you are fond of old school hip hop, for instance, scratch your fingernails from side to side on the walls of the elevator. Proceed to rap. Suggested topics: who you are, what you came here to do, does Hip Hop Hate women? 9. The elevator does feature a small communication device for your use should anything go wrong during your short journey. Ask yourself what this might be. 10. If, in fact, the elevator has broken down, this may be the only thing you have had to read for sometime. Be thankful for the care and wit has provided for you during these otherwise all too quiet and perhaps desperate hours. Instead of panicking, futile button pressing and bickering, this sculpture asks you to consider the following: a) do not stand on each other's shoulders in an attempt to get out of the elevator through what you think is a hatch in the ceiling; in reality, these openings only exist in movies and TV and have not been featured in real elevators for sometime, mainly because people are frequently killed or injured trying to use them at times like these, b) there is no real danger of suffocation, c) likewise, it is impossible for the modern elevator to fall, even should the cable snap, which is itself unlikely: in the absence of the cable's tension, the elevator immediately locks to the side of the shaft, d) despite your current experience, elevator travel is, statistically speaking, more reliable and safer than air travel, automobiles or taking a shower, e) instead of slowly giving in to the devastating pressures of claustrophobia and isolation, why not form a reading group based on this document? Be sure to cite the document properly. 11. For instance, consider the following remarks on the elevator: "What else has a sliding stainless steel door like this? Answer: nothing. Stainless steel doors are featured on vaults, refrigerators and morgues all to signify the same thing: immortality, freshness sealed into incorruptibility, cleanliness. What has all this to do with vertical travel? Vertical travel is uncanny and unnatural. Vertical travel in an elevator is usually achieved by travel through a large dark shaft that no one ever sees. Travel in an elevator, therefore is most like being ingested and excreted, promising more oblivion and ignominy than death itself, which is why there is an effort to put the brightest best face on things with the stainless steel doors in the first place. Once you enter the elevator you enter into a room, a waiting room, but a waiting room of all waiting rooms. The best have no amenities at all, no mirrors or advertisements. This is because you are only marginally ever in that room: it is a space no one really shares, but everyone inhabits, (much like death also -or life, if you prefer). It is such a wholly innocuous and nugatory space that an entire genre of music has evolved around it. This can be said of almost no other sculpture or installation today.What about glass elevators? Glass elevators are deviant exhibitionist visions of the elevator. Eschatologically speaking, they are clearly designed for and by people who believe everything is transparent and do not believe in any kind of afterlife, believing heaven and hell to be aspects of our immanent existence: an academic point since glass elevators exist only in movies and in the perverted mind of Roald Dahl." Is the author being ironic? What prevents this from being a true semiotic analysis? Can you think of field of study where the author might be happier? Another place? Write your answer here__________ Where is this excerpt taken from? 12. If you have remained in this elevator one or more days, it is likely that something has happened to the outside world and you may be the only survivor(s): please use this document as the basis of your new society (you may also wish to apply this, in the event the social order inside the elevator has somehow broken down): we hold the following truths to be self evident: that all elevator passengers are created equal that they are endowed, by their Creator (or just plain circumstance), with certain unalienable elevator Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Passengers, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Passengers to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Following these first principles, proceed to the creation of a constitution. 13. The doors will open, one way or the other, accident or no. Step into this new world without hesitation.