Gold shipping containers, inside immersive audio and video technology, coming face to face with a person in Teheran; I wanted to talk Amar Bakshi. His Shared Studios Project more than just intrigued me. I went to Amar’s website and found out he was involved in organizing a symposium at The Yale Law School on February 28th, titled The Legal Medium: New Encounters of Art and Law. This symposium examined how artists use the law as material for their work. Really?
PO: You are currently enrolled in Law School, which many people might think is a kind of “left turn” from being involved in Public Art Projects.
AB: Law school at Yale has been a spectacular opportunity to look at law as more than black letter rules, but rather as overlapping, shifting processes, systems, values, and beliefs. Art and culture are vital parts of the creation, execution and interpretation of law. Furthermore, the practice of public art inevitably intersects with law – from zoning, permitting, contracts and liability insurance to the exercise of police force and arrest. I have recently gotten to know artists who use law as material in their creative practice, and I find the possibilities here truly fascinating. I recently helped organize a conference called The Legal Medium, which focused entirely on such artists (www.TheLegalMedium.com).
PO: Can you describe your idea for the Portals Project?
AB: The idea of Portals is to make the mundane sacred. In particular, it was to ground the connective potential of the Internet in a physical space to make a sacred encounter between two distant strangers. People enter two boxes one-a-time and converse as if in the same room, live and full body.
PO: Were you surprised by the conversations that people had?
AB: Yes, I was surprised by how moving people found the experience and how intimate the conversations swiftly became. The Portals experience is rare: You are alone with another person who you are likely never going to see again. There are no cell phones or distractions. You have twenty minutes to speak. There is no purpose to the interaction other than fulfilling a basic human curiosity.
PO: Are you going to continue with Portals project?
AB: Yes. That is the goal. We want to make it available to any community that wants to join, regardless of ability to pay, from Herat to Havana. We are actually raising money now through Kickstarter for our growth. We’d love whatever help we can get. Even just $1! The link is www.SharedStudios.com/kickstarter.
WHO WE ARE
Shared_Studios is a multidisciplinary arts, design and technology collective focused on carving wormholes throughout the world.
We ground the connective potential of new technology in physical spaces to create more accessible, secure and sacred encounters between diverse populations.
I missed the opportunity to participate in the Portals Project in New York at the Lu Magnus Gallery in December 2014.
The Legal Medium
On Saturday, February 28, 2015, leading artists and thinkers of our time will gather at Yale Law School to engage in a series of panels, presentations and performances about how artists use law as material in their work.
What exactly is happening when: Mary Ellen Carroll fights the Federal Trade Commission to turn cable TV into public super-wifi; Tehching Hsieh spends a year in self-imposed solitary confinement; and Kenny Goldsmith prints the Internet?
Art In America
World On A Wire: Mary Ellen Carroll Creates New Connections in New Orleans
by Aimee Walleston
“We live in a political epoch: everything is about politics and policy,” she says. “So I’m literally using policy as a material, in sort of the same way a painter uses paint.”