My initial thought of the parallel installations ‘Skin’ and ‘Control’ at Location One was that I was viewing one piece. Three large sections of control boards dominated the entrance (‘Control’), followed by the cabin of an airplane (‘Skin’). The plane fuselage was enormous and so perfectly situated that Roy, Mayumi and I accepted it and didn’t make any mention on our first pass through the gallery.

My second viewing of ‘Skin’ was unsettling. Something changed, and I had a haunted moment. The realization that this experience was threatening and I was unable to register it properly at first, was slowly occurring to me. I recognized the piece as an airplane cabin right away, but it took me a while to realize that I was bothered by the plane as it hung at such a dangerous angle.

In a quicktime video on Location One’s website (see here), artist Chris Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “cheek-sent-me-high”) comments on “Skin”, saying the piece was “not intended to be violent or tragic”. He was more interested in conveying a sense of routine and banality. I think he achieved both.

I heard and felt the metal hull humming. I noticed the light on through a passenger window in the rear of the cabin, and I wanted to climb it and peek in. ‘Skin’ managed this strange balance of familiarity and fear.

The rising sense of insecurity was enhanced peripherally by the initial installation, “Control”. I kept thinking this technology looks awfully old. It was kitschy 60’s sci-fi and hopefully obsolete. The mental link established to the nearby downward angling plane was disconcerting.

At the same time, the control board was whimsical. Monochromatic vector graphics jerked across monitors like the old Vectrex Video Game System. Big buttons and flashing lights added to the funny feeling of being on the movie set of a nuclear reactor. The control boards incorporated the gallery desk, phone and computer, adding to the allure of ‘Control’ as a functioning technology.

In his quicktime talk, Chris mentioned a quote from Homo Faber by Max Frisch, “Technology is the art of so arranging the world so that you don’t have to experience it.” That is the wish of the technocrat. And while the effort is understandable, the resultant reality we all experience is a mixture of recognition and uneasiness.

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