Monday, April 11, 2011

A meaningless illusion

Among the many responses to Maine Governor Paul LePage's arbitrary (and summary) removal of a mural (paid for by the Federal Government) from the lobby of Maine's Department of Labor, one of my favorites is the "photo-bombing" of Maine's capitol building by the activist artists known as BrokeFix. Last week, on April 2, they projected a large image of the mural onto the Capitol's exterior for about two hours until a police officer, learning that they were "putting the mural back up," warned them that if they didn't leave, he would have to arrest them.

Arrest them? For what? As far as I can make out, the officer believed he would be obliged to arrest the artists simply for making a political statement in the vicinity of the Capitol. Is there now a law against making political statements in civic spaces? Here's a video the artists made of their "photo-bombing":

The Huffington Post reports on their interview with the artists, given "on the condition that their identities not be revealed. That interview took place on Friday -- like much of the group's work, late at night."

Here's a snippet of the Huffington Post's account of the interview:
"The beauty of what we are doing is in the DIY [do-it-yourself] mentality that fuels the project," the BrokeFix members said. "The methods we use to achieve our projects are crude, and we, very much so, are making this all up as we go along. We are hoping that this video acts as something of a springboard for more people to get out there and produce something. Anything."

The artists said they had been experimenting with photo-bombing -- a type of non-destructive graffiti and street art -- and used the mural controversy as a test case. The biggest question, they said, was whether they could properly and safely get the technical pieces right.

Like most appliances, the lamp used to project the mural runs on alternating current (AC). In order to project from the road, the artists had to derive some sort of power source.
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"We used a car battery because the projector requires great amount of power and the car battery can also be run in conjunction with a car, using the alternator to maintain the charge," the BrokeFix members said. "So our main challenge was to change DC [direct current] power to AC using an inverter to run the projector."

The trio recently became even more mobile, creating what they call a "photon pack" -- which somewhat resembles the "proton pack" of the "Ghostbusters" franchise -- connecting the inverter directly to the car battery rather than the vehicle itself. They used this method during their most recent photo-bombing in Portland, Maine, which featured the mural along with comments they've received about their artwork from around the web.
. . . . .

Pointing to recent union protests in Maine and Wisconsin, among others, and the uprisings in the Middle East, the group added: "The weight of futility that our society places upon the individual is a meaningless illusion that disappears as soon as you realize that your own two hands can lift it away. Power exists within you as soon as you choose to use it."
Lately, under an increasingly vicious onslaught of reactionary savagery I've been finding the effort to shake off the the "weight of futility" as a "meaningless illusion" increasingly arduous. I guess this "choir" (and a few others I can think of) needs some preaching to.  


Nancy Jane Moore said...

You're not the only member of the choir who needs to hear a little preaching. I can't even face turning on NPR to get the news.

Josh said...

"LePage also announced that he plans to rename conference rooms that have carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Frances Perkins." I wonder what he will rename her—my guess is "Dagny Bachmann."