WHO WE ARE Hideous Beast is a collaborative effort between two artists, Josh Ippel and Charlie Roderick. Through organizing structured participatory events we attempt to encourage cultural activity outside the boundaries of mainstream entertainment and fabricated desire. Critical of the audience as a passive participant, Hideous Beast seeks to coordinate events in which an acknowledged exchange between the event (as entertainment) and the spectator (as collaborator) can generate meanings beyond traditional formalized modes of entertainment.
WHAT WE DID Hideous Beast is invested in creating alternate forms of social exchange. To further this practice, we investigate the efforts of other artists and cultural producers who promote new understandings and modes of social interaction. Many of these projects carry an imperative for the gesture to be repeated. This is apparent either implicitly in the ideology and logic of the activity, or explicitly in the form of instruc- tion sets or public presentations. As an extension of our own search for new tactics of engagement and in order to evaluate these reproducible actions, we will recreate other artist’s projects, document and analyze the results. For Open Engagement, we decided to reproduce SHOP by the artist group, N55. They present the project on their website, http://n55.dk where it is described as follows: “SHOP enables persons to exchange things without the use of money. At SHOP, persons can contribute things for other persons to use, persons can use things, borrow things, swap things, or persons can take things they need. All sorts of things can be available at SHOP.” '
HOW IT HAPPENED In preparation for the project, we contacted Jennifer Delos Reyes, Open Engagement Conceptual Director, about the possibility of finding a space to host SHOP on a long-term basis. Through discussion with her and our hostess Andrea Young, we determined that no long-term venue was available. For the duration of the conference we were given space in the Riddel Centre–a common space at the University of Regina, surrounded by a food court and traveling vendors. Before arriving we also talked to Andrea about where to acquire free things. We looked into Freecycle.org and various other free exchange websites, but since we had easy and readily avail- able form of transportation, it was difficult to pick up items from multiple individuals. Fortunately, Andrea provided a solution. Her mother had quite a surplus of things leftover from a family garage sale and was more than happy to have them taken away. We filled up Andrea’s car with cassettes, LPs, VHS tapes, board games, dolls, wicker baskets, books and toys. We were given three folding tables to use for the setup of SHOP. In order to mimic the forms used by N55 and to set SHOP apart from the rest of the vendors in the building, we set up the tables in a triangle. We also constructed a triangular pedestal out of cardboard that held information about the project, instructions for its use and the word “SHOP” written on it. For the duration of the 3-day conference we set up SHOP in the morning and broke down in the evening.
WHERE IT WILL GO For our first trial of Field Test we came away from the conference with a wealth of feedback. Our interactions with participants of SHOP and the dialogue surrounding our lecture presented us with new ways for evaluating the project and how it might manifest in future attempts. Hideous Beast presents its projects to the public in hopes of finding effective ways to communicate ideas. We are often confronted with issues of clarity, and strive to acknowledge its importance. How clear is our intention? How might we improve on previous projects? How do we expand and experiment, avoiding formulaic stagnancy? By reproducing the works of others, we hope to learn more about method and process. How do ideas hold up when variables change and context shifts? SHOP is presented to the public by N55 and we would like to learn more about their practice. By experiencing their ideas we might understand their proposals. In doing so we also want to widen their project, producing an expanded version of “Manual for SHOP” with the addition of our situation and experience at the conference, eventually producing a manual that grows through time and repeated performances. In retrospect this came across as us trying to critique, or point out flaws in SHOP, which became inflated by our use of terms like “success” and “failure”. Although these terms are important for us, and became part of larger conversations at the conference pertaining to establishing criteria, measuring success, documenting effects, or evaluat- ing effectiveness, our presentation of Field Test was perceived as a quantitative rather than qualitative analysis. This might change though.
Hideous Beast is showing Field Test as part of doublebounce, a curatorial project about collaboration over geographic distance organized by Helen Reed and Maiko Tanaka at XPACE in Toronto, Ontario, in March of 2008. For more information about Hideous Beast and Field Test please visit http://hideousbeast.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org