Demonstrating The World, 2014 – 17

Live Art Denmark, Copenhagen; UICA Grand Rapids, USA; Experimentica, Cardiff; Performance Studio, London; South Bank Centre, London; Tramway Glasgow; Belfast Bounce Festival; Fierce Festival, Birmingham.

Presented in city centre shopping areas, ‘Demonstrating the World’ takes the form of a durational public performance disguised as an everyday consumerist exposition.

The work began with an appreciation of the ‘How To’ video phenomenon on social media. In these short films, some single, banal aspect of everyday life is given a rigorous instructional demonstration by amateur filmmakers: how to climb steps, remove a jacket, sit on a chair, lift a bag, tie a shoelace. No activity or object would appear too mundane to be given the treatment, as though the demonstrations are being performed to an audience of aliens that have no experience of habitual human activity.

I collaborated with architect Ida Martin to design a range of household furniture pieces capable of being transformed from one domestic function into another unrelated, or ‘alien’, one: a side table opens out to form an ironing board; a clock transforms into a vacuum cleaner; a TV set opens out into a bookshelf. In order to detail my demonstrations, I also designed a vocabulary of hand-shapes by which to manipulate the various pieces. These hand-shapes were assigned descriptive names such as ‘the cliffhanger’, ‘the crab’, ‘the gun’, ‘the hook’. As I demonstrate the furniture’s ‘alien’ functions to the passing public by closing cupboard doors, pulling handles, lifting or extending component parts of the furniture, I firstly strike the hand-shape and call out its name before proceeding.

Supported by Unlimited with funding from Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Wales and Spirit of 2012.

More information on the project can be found HERE.

A blog following the development of the project can be read here:

dt1editDtW BrumDtW Furniture 1
Handshape Vocabulary