*PROVIDING TOOLS* Allright, let's get back on "theme" (which

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Allright, let's get back on "theme" (which was, if you recall, Participatory Art) Now we're focusing on works that provide tools to encourage specific kinds of actions by the participants themselves.


I've already mentioned Parfyme's Yellow Ladders:


And you've probably seen Ji Lee's speech bubbles around town:


Then there is TxtMob with Tad Hirsch and with the Institute for Applied Autonomy, which gives protestors a central message center through mobile phones:


Art Farm (of exploding TV infamy) made a whole series of instruction booklets to instigate new use of spaces, this one about mobile inflatables. They bring it down to the nitty gritty, including how budget a generator you can go before frying your equipment:

Recently Raumlabor's space-buster revisited ant farm's booklet to bring inflatable spaces to the undersides of the bridges of NYC.


Reclaim the Streets (who I reblogged here) is another group that spurs action through instruction booklets and example:


Alfrdo Jaar's use of tools is more indirect. Here, he attached a switch in a homeless shelter to a vivid red light installed in the cupola of a landmark monument in Montreal. Whenever a homeless person decided to hit that switch, the city would see.


Nils Norman (of the fantastic exploding school) designs parks built for easy squatting, with foliage placed specifically to aid in hiding and escape from authorities. They exist as diorama's, and I hope he steps up to get some of these actually built. Might have to go through a shell architecture firm so his motives aren't so obvious...


Finally, Guillermo Gomez Pena / Pocha Nostra take Augusta Boal's Theater of The Oppressed to strange, queasy places, seeing the stage as practice for life, scripting scenes that may start with construction but end in naked craziness.

"If we learn to cross borders on stage, we may learn how to do so in larger social spheres."


So, what's going on in all of these works? Tactics range from active coaching, providing specific steps or guidelines, to simply providing a canvas or pointing towards a suggested action. All of these pieces imply further action to come. In fact, quite often the role of the artist (or activist, or programmer, or troublemaker) ends when the interaction begins, once the pieces are laid out and directions staked.