JOAN presents False Function/Assumed Broken, an accumulative performance by Paul Salveson on Saturday, June 27 from 6–9pm. Performed by Kelly Akashi, Dwyer Kilcollin, Young Joon Kwak, Nevine Mahmoud, David Muenzer, and Thomas Trudgeon.
“Still uncertain how long he had been awake, or what he had been doing half an hour earlier, Laing sat down among the empty bottles and refuse on the kitchen floor. He gazed up at the derelict washing-machine and refrigerator, now only used as garbage-bins. He found it hard to remember what their original function had been. To some extent they had taken on a new significance, a role that he had yet to understand. Even the run-down nature of the high-rise was a model of the world into which the future was carrying them, a landscape beyond technology where everything was either derelict or, more ambiguously, recombined in unexpected but more meaningful ways.” – J.G. Ballard. High Rise, 1975.
The trope of an object’s lost meaning frequently appears in science fiction narratives. Delicately intertwined histories of technology and culture embedded in an object dissipate when the world of its origin ceases to exist. Characters in these fictions struggle to understand the once quotidian, technical things around them, sometimes decoding the objects they find, other times assigning them entirely new uses. Experimental archaeology – a contemporary practice relying on re-enactment and performance to understand archaic technologies and lifestyles – enacts a similar decoding. Researchers in this field reconstruct artifacts and tools from civilization’s dawning moments to develop hypotheses on the object’s original functions.
False Function/Assumed Broken is a durational performance and live experiment. Researchers will simulate object-specific amnesia uncovering strands of hidden information in contemporary commodities through physical manipulation and improvisation. Mysterious and commonplace items will be dismantled, destroyed, dipped, dripped, hacked and slashed, then reconstituted and intuitively reconfigured by each performer. In an alternating structure of freeform investigation and documentation, the relationship of objects to consumers and creators will be interrogated through their materiality, conceptual origins, and potential new use logics.
Image: Gamma World Rules, Bruce Nesmith & James M. Ward. pg. 67