Someone Needs To Work So The Rest Of Us Can Dance.

Installation for the Art Gallery of Ontario's Massive Party, April 27, 2017

An interactive installation in which four hand-cranking electrical generators were set out on a stage, powering party lights for the adjacent dance area. When cranked by a partygoer, they fed current directly into the disco ball, lasers and the illuminated dance floor. If nobody stepped up to crank the generators, then the dance floor, disco ball, laser lights etc would remain unlit, casting the party into darkness. Keeping the party going required a constant supply of guests willing to get up on stage, roll up their sleeves and “take one for the team.”

Inspired by the famous assembly line scene in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times which hilariously critiqued the mania, futility, and sisyphean tragedy that can sometimes accompany a manufacturing job. “Progressive assembly” lines still produce much of what we consume, although now such factories are mostly elsewhere in the world, out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Our electronics, holiday ornaments, fast fashion still require a measure of effort and sacrifice to bring into the world. Chaplin's film is as relevant today as it was in 1936 when it was released, as it reminds us that everything grinds to a halt if nobody performs the physical work.

Above and below: hand-cranking generators in use.