It was tornado season and rains became so torrential in Kansas that traffic slowed to a crawl. Don’t get sucked up in a torny! That would #suck!
We were split into two houses, in my group we starred in a reality TV show: “7 Dudes in a Room” (this figure included Noah’s cardboard GF “Princess Miami”).
The landlord of our “Bed and Breakfast” gave us a discount based on our vibe and had glamorous fingernails. He decorated the place with (partially up-side-down) African art, mirrors, and a mass-produced paintings of the Eiffel Tower, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe. Our room was outfitted with three box springs and three beds. Half the “beds” had bottom sheets and half had top sheets. Throw pillows had pillowcases that matched the sheets. There were two triangular plates, no cups, one dented pan and the cupboard was stocked with a bag of MSG and lollipops. Whenever we did laundry we would each loose six pairs of socks.
One day as we were leaving the house we heard ghost noises “hoooooooooo ooooooo-woooooooo!” from upstairs. We deduced it was the landlord. Later he asked if we believed in ghosts. Another time I was the only person in the house and landlord didn’t seem to think anyone was home. As he did laundry he sang: “I just wanna smoke some wee-eee-eed but right now I gotta do these chores, but later on I will be done with these chores, I cannot wait to go upstairs, and smoke some WEE-EEE-EEEEEED ——– YEA-AH-YEAH!”
One evening we went to a penthouse with Feather and took part in corporate bonding/bondage exercises. Afterward we went to a wall of graffiti, which had a hidden door that led to a dark lounge full of famous people and the best cocktails I’ve ever tasted.
Dad was on a road trip and showed up with a huge bag of chia,
Happy Camper IPA, and a shirt/shoes for Noah and me. My college buddy Blaire lives in Chicago, and we caught up over rum and orange juice.
Noah had been intent on fighting Molly Soda but was not let into “Total Therapy,” where she would be. Luckily we were invited to her barbecue by our new friend Toothepaste. We brought a hostess gift of a number 8 candle, and Molly Soda ended up being nice person who gave Noah cron on the cob – so she won the fight.
Our DJ friend Teena Pizza had just moved to Chicago and was always either bringing pizza or coming up with fun things for us to do. I talked about going to the lake every day, a couple of times a day, so toward the end of our visit she and I went to the great Chicago lake with Blaire – it was basically the ocean.
Teena Pizza invited us to a rager and as we skipped back Benji splashed into a bog. “Chicago? More like Shit-Bog-O!”
By the end of the install 17 of us were at Thomas Robertello Gallery “bumping booties” as Goulda had prophesied. Noah began the comic “Cat and Lady” based on Matt and Caity. It features two cute animals with a strong work ethic.
The fuel for the show’s creation was 23.5 oz. cans of Shaq Soda “A Big Can for the Big Man.” Shaq’s face ended up part of the installation’s skeleton. If you let little tendrils tickle your face at one point on a wall, you will see Shaq smiling back at you.
There was a bottle of absinthe in the bathroom, which tempted Benji and me for weeks before we each sipped a cap-full. Every afternoon between 3 and 5 A paint-covered coffee machine steamed the bathroom with the aroma of the well-balanced espresso from La Columbe down the street.
We created the infrastructure of the show with dumpster-dived cardboard – it seemed like all the neighbors had been getting new furniture: “Chicago, Meow Wolf presents: YOUR TRASH!” It’s doubtful many of the neighbors around came to the show however – they mostly seemed concerned with yelling at my friends to get jobs and to wash their hair. Our other neighbors at the restaurant “Wishbone,” where many ate daily, gave us gift certificates.
Meow Wolf got some nice words in Bad At Sports, Hyperallergic, Chicago Arts and Culture, Yareah, and the Chicago Tribune. Visual Art Source said my piece was a “blue note:” “…This reality check of self awareness helps drive home the fact that “Nucleotide” is not just a romp of artistic whimsy, but a large scale contemplation of viewership within an experiential artwork.”
I spent some time conceptualizing my portion of the installation, but I spent more time wiring LEDs. The metaphor for Nucleotide is that of a collective consciousness manifest through blending organic structures. As we built the show we talked about parts of the process as the “skeleton, nervous system, and skin.” Two friends created a whale out of miniature whales after discussing the things things are made of. I had been thinking about similar questions after Hoku’s death: What are the components that make a life? What makes a body? I kept coming back to space.
My part of Nucleotide is a space like space, reflective and watery and made of mylar, hundreds of LEDs, and a mirror ceiling. An ambient drone plays until someone comes in and the infrared camera recognizes their skeleton. The movement of bodies affects filters and activates virtual space-instruments, dance creating music… “dance music.”
In my heart the piece is a shrine to Hoku.
Our glitchy skeletons dance.