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Art Wed Apr 11 2012
As you might imagine, there are difficulties that come along with hypnotizing groups of people at a time, and Jacob C. Hammes certainly faced these difficulties on Friday night as the small room he performed in at New Capital coursed with 50+ fidgety onlookers, awkwardly trying to cram themselves closer together so that they could take part in the action, or at least get a glimpse. About an hour into it, the room had emptied to about a dozen people - about five who seemed to be hypnotized and the rest along for the ride. The hypnotized slouched in their chairs, eyes closed, mumbling about balls of gas and floating inside of diamonds when engaged by Hammes.
During his performance, Hamme's audio was being broadcast throughout New Capital to mingle with the work by Michael Lane, Matthew Siriani and Lauren Payne, and under this soothing, hypnotic context, the work pulsed with energy. One onlooker laid on a set of bleachers by Lane to try to soak up Hamme's audio in a less cramped setting. The bleachers, made out of particle board and cut with a CNC machine, inhabit a brightly lit "living room" or sorts, facing a sterile, white still life - one you might imagine on the mantle in a posh penthouse - giving the sense that the bleachers have been transplanted into this private living space for spectators to soak it in.
In the "basement", Sirianni works with similar ideas of public vs. private, via video documentation of live video chat, where he manipulates a different kind of unassuming audience than Hamme's -- the casual and anonymous cyber sex object. The performer has no idea he is now the subject of a work of art, he was likely simply collecting a payment. The result is a quirky examination of both what it means to be a participant and how the lines between public and private are more tenuous then they may seem.
After the performance, the hypnotized lazily meandered downstairs and joined the rest of the crowd in the yard to stare at perhaps the most popular of all meditative agents, a bonfire, and wait for Payne's 12am lunar performance, where she re-arranged glowing orange stones on the ground to suit the movement of the moon, which was full and bright. The mood was extremely calm and subdued, especially for a rather large group of beer drinkers on a Friday night. Even those who were not fully hypnotized had a heightened sense of perception from meditating on Hamme's words - a state that lends itself to art-viewing - and the result was a lovely, hyper-stimulating treat for the senses.
For more information about the show, visit ACRE's website.