Visitor to That’s Not A Knife wielding a machete in an altogether brandish manner.
On January 29th in a converted warehouse surrounded by stray dogs just North of the 71st st railroad tracks Justin H. Long and Robert Meatball Lorie, now known as the collaborative group Funner Projects, orchestrated their first show of the new year That’s Not a Knife. Increasingly notorious for unruly, laddish gestures and dangerous kinetic sculptures, Funner Projects profess a desire “to end mundane art experiences and make life funner.” Ostensibly overtly masculine (in a very boyish kind of way), adrenalin and mechanically oriented, and, need I stress again, quite quite dangerous, the category of work that we have come to expect from Funner Projects falls somewhere between sculpture and performance and is both amusing and threatening in a very elating or emasculating way, depending I guess on how comfortable you are around eviscerating steel blades, homemade (and illegally smuggled) guns, clouds of mercury fumes and torque mad weight lifters.
Obviously we have all come way to far to even venture the question of whether this is art or not, but what might be worth asking is ‘is there a place for this kind of thing now?’ I suppose the answer would depend heavily how you rate the existence of Survival Research Labs and the decades of work they have been doing to establish their obsession with carnage as a legitimate form of public spectacle. These days, perhaps due to the work of SRL, the success of this kind of thing is self evident. We gorge ourselves on TV shows like Robot Wars, Scrap Heap Challenge and those shark vs salt water crocodile escapades where man-boys and lost engineers spend hours building animatronic and CGI beasts which are then pit in a battles of mind-boggling witlessness to differentiate which hypothetical enemy would hypothetically emerge victorious over the other with some meager intention to provide an original-ish contribution to science that ultimately fails. But with Funner Projects, at least so far as regards the artists (as no one can account for the audience) the geek and/or brute vibe is somehow thankfully absent, as too are whirring android-like guinea pigs for destruction, oscillating orange security lights, custom issue baseball caps, hazard tape and a hyperbolic sense of awe via techno-gore. Instead, and in opposition to the suggestion that SRL have done it all before and that these guys in Miami are just gear heads that lack self awareness, there is an aestheticism at play here that somehow trumps the rest of a genre that, if it weren’t so crude, could almost be erotic. Here, apart form the raw meat, the only eroticism to be found was in Long’s wardrobe and Lorie’s dark dark eyes. Beyond the superficial aesthetic of the wood/mechanic shop setting, the carefully careless hand painted signs and the biker gang sophisticate facade there is something decadent in the examination of force, something symbolic in its restraint and a lot to be said for the pseudo-gallery setting and above all the craft employed, not only in terms of the contextual provenances (?) of the materials used, but in the artful – not in the least careless or utilitarian – realization of the old form vs function tug-o-war. Yes Miami already has Robert Chambers, but are we not deserving of and receptive to other interesting forays into the tangential world of mechanized kinetic art? Especially when it shoots 2×4′s, peanut butter candy, eight foot strip florescents and breaks the monotony of liquor sponsored boutiques populated by yes persons and coke heads? If not I’ll gladly volunteer myself for the next Funner Projects show, whatever the fuck it might be.
Here’s some documentation:
A homemade zip gun made by a guy whose name we probably shouldn’t give (Leon Cortez) and smuggled into the country by another guy whose name we definitely shouldn’t give. Constructed using steel pipe and ratchet heads. Operated by hand. Fires anything in a cartridge, on this occasion, candy.
Justin H. Long’s machete and faux ham chopping block. Constructed using the stiffening part of a leaf spring from an 80′s pick up and wood on two separate trips to Portland, OR. Operated by hand, the bigger the better.
Larry Newberry with Lights Out and Robert Meatball Lorie with Crossbow. Onlookers operated by beer, danger and vascular men.
Robert Meatball Lorie’s Crossbow firing at That’s Not A Knife. Constructed using an I beam and leaf springs from a Chrysler Town and Country mini van (chosen because the artist imagined 7 fat Americans and thought that’s how much power he wanted). Operated with a mechanical winch and a machete. Fires lengths of 2×4 wood.
Larry Newberry’s Lights Out firing at That’s Not A Knife. Constructed using PVC pipe. Operated with compressed air and a ball valve. Fires eight foot strip fluorescents.
Target at That’s Not A Knife. Constructed using an old door, a shipping crate, some old tires and some wire fencing.
This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.