Crowds of people, exhausted from looking at art in the convention centers and satellite fairs--running from event to event, trying to keep up with art-world politics, gossip, exclusive parties, pseudo-celebrity stalking, vernissages, press briefings, velvet-rope intrigue, VIP areas, or All-Weiwei-All-the-Time, Chinese artist who's hulking presence--this year's Koons--is felt in galleries, island developments, and hotel lobbies. Collectors, dealers, critics, advisors, enthusiasts, busy hustling, positioning, brown-nosing, or broken-heartedly resigning to this season's operative narrative of fiddling while Rome burns. Small planes fly overhead, pulling banners with banal and obfuscated statements like "No Angst for Art," "Intellectual Revolution=Retinal Submission," but people are tired of the fragmented art orgy, tired of art as lubricant for international exchange, as validation for real estate speculation and outdated museology.
Many of these jaded souls drift in and find unexpected solace in Lunar Lounge, soothed by immersive sounds, white noise and glowing lights. Lunar Lounge! Pale garden of floating thought patterns where nothing is being marketed, promoted or commodified except the suggestion of new paradigmologies. ULTRA, a site-specific environment that transforms the Lunar Lounge area, was created by Czech/Argentine artist Federico Díaz and the Prague-based collaborative known as "E Area". ULTRA is a deformed topography of polyethylene layers cut into various mounds and islands by CNC robotic technology. The mounds glow with preternatural light and vibrate, ever so seductively, with throbbing sounds that come from hidden speakers. (A disorienting, out-of-body audio mix of psychedelia, trance and experimental sounds was curated by David Weinsten, E Area, Iain Gordon and AG.) Some read it as moonscape or autobiographical brainscape. Others see white-matter mappings, topographies, radiology/MRI scans, radiating sound waves, ripples in a rock pool, furrows and folds of ocean depths, eruptions, splayed vortices, fluctuating space/time warps, cumulus clouds, concentric circles, fingerprint whorls, happiness vectors, arcane nomenclature, oscilloscopic signals, genome loops, flow charts, global weather models, high-pressure areas, occluded fronts, or, even, alien plottings of humanoid moods and tipping points. Adults sit, lean and slump against the undulating mounds. Children crawl in and around the peaks and valleys while at the very center of the plaza, an amorphous blob either rises up, depending on how one sees it, or oozes down from the PS1 radio station as if to dominate, smother or possibly surrender to the utopian thought workers who vigilantly man the booth.
The neutral white walls, mounds and floor of ULTRA/Lunar Lounge make a perfect trippy setting for "Spaced Out: Psychedelic Projections and Expanded Cinema," curated by Alastair Gordon and M.M. Serra (Film-Makers' Cooperative), projected onto a large screen across from the two-story radio/projection booth. There are light shows by Tony Martin, USCO, and Joshua Light Show; vintage mind-blow films by Michael Kuchar, Stan VanDerBeek, Jud Yalkut, Bill Etra; and new experimental films by Magdalena Jitrick, Federico Díaz, Martin Kaftan, Eric Christensen, Charles Light, Mike Inglesh, The Poool, Joan Grossman, and Tom McCourt.
All of these immersive environments, light shows, psychedelic films, sounds, music, meals, parties, "book-offs", and six days of continuous radio programming are orchestrated, somehow, under the luminescent leadership of Allana Heiss, high priestess of all things alternative and founder/director of the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City. Allana understands the vagaries of the collaborative process and actively promotes the notion of "lounge" as an all-inclusive, non-linear matrix of art, anarchy and leisure--not unlike the squishy time chambers of Leary's day--in which overlapping and often contradictory elements cross-pollinate and flourish. With uncanny presience, she pulls together unlikely participants--random factions, attitudes, trips, mood swings, coming from different locations and time periods--as if tossing so many cards in the air and letting them fall where they may. Yet all of it fits together in copasetic synergy. The uterine softness of E-Area's ULTRA, for instance, echoes the sculpted womb rooms and participatory sensoriums of the Spaced Out 60s (USCO, Electric Circus, Cerebrum, Haus-Rucker Co., Ant Farm) but points to a very different future.
Radio programming (both live and pre-recorded) is moderated by Alanna herself, David Weinstein, Tony Guerrero, Jeannie Hopper, Beatrice Johnson and includes a series of Spaced Out interviews by Alastair Gordon with psychedelic trailblazers like Gerd Stern, Tony Martin, Ramon Sender, Lloyd Kahn, Jay Baldwin, Joshua White, Isaac Abrams, Alicia Bay Laurel, Clark Richert and others. Most of these interviews will be featured as pod casts on "Spaced Out, The On-Line Commune." (*See www.wps1.org for radio schedule.)
The astonishing week of events is capped by the Spaced Out-Come Trip With Us party at the Shore Club (1901 Collins Avenue) on Saturday night, December 6, starting at 10PM and going into the wee hours with open bar, DJs, naked splashing in the pool. But the focal point of the evening is light-show legend Tony Martin performing live liquid projections, with wife and co-conspirator Margot, on a rear-projection screen and the back wall of the Shore Club, working with slide and overhead projectors, manipulating glass bowls (clock faces) filled with water, oil, vegetable dies, etc.