Attack of the Energizer Bunnies

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

‘Bot Tip: Wall St. ‘Invasion’ Looms:
Arty Army of Drones to March on NYSE

By Lukas I. Alpert
New York Post
May 3, 2007

Performance Artoo: Artist Javier Tellez"™s 500-strong regiment of foot-tall robots stands ready to make its wacky statementThe army of robots set to lay siege to the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the month is merely a grand piece of performance art.

Dubbed “This Is Tomorrow,” the piece by Venezuelan-born artist Javier Tellez will consist of 500 small drones carrying placards bearing messages written by mental health patients.

“What I am interested in is giving a voice to people who are usually denied that in a public space,” Tellez told The Post. “It is also a little humorous.

“They are just 12 inches tall and they will be protesting this huge building and organization at the heart of capitalism.”

The soldiers of the blue, battery-operated army will continue the march around the financial institution until their batteries run out, Tellez said.

“It’s a huge march for them as they are so small. They will walk until their batteries exhaust. It is again a metaphor for what a political action could be.

“It is also channeling the myth of science fiction from the ’50s, which was wrapped up in politics as well,” he said.

The date of the march has not been set. Tellez, 38, and the artist group Creative Time, which commissioned the work, are still ironing out the permits required by the city.

But the robot master said his project will definitely occur before the end of this month.

Tellez – whose parents were both psychiatrists – has long collaborated with people in mental health facilities in producing his art.

“When I was young, my father took me to the hospitals with him. I think that led to a breakdown of the distinction between what is considered ‘normal’ and what is considered ‘pathologic,’ ” he said. “My work functions in this gray area.”

In 2005, he staged a performance of “One Flew Over the Void” which involved a parade organized by psychiatric patients in Tijuana, Mexico, and climaxed with the firing of a human cannonball over the U.S. border near San Diego.

“He is interested in borders in the literal sense and with mental borders – looking at difference takes on life and its relationships with power structures,” said Mark Beasley, Creative Time’s curator.

“In terms of the stock exchange and this kind of march of the robots, I think he was interested in picking a site that stood for an almost enforced type of normality. He was quite interested in the voice of those people who don’t normally have a voice to express themselves,” he said.

The project is also a type of homage to the famed “This Is Tomorrow” exhibit in 1956 at the Whitechapel Art gallery in London, in which artist Richard Hamilton and others created a room filled with models of Robbie the Robot from the film “Forbidden Planet.”