Hilary Harp + Suzie Silver (2008-2010)

AV Lodge is the ongoing media performance project of Harp + Silver begun in 2007. On July 18, 2008, we presented the inaugural workshop performance of our first project, AV Lodge presents: Fruit Machine at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Above is a short highlights reel from the entire performance.

Fruit Machine is a campy hour-long media performance that uses a dynamic interplay between live and screen-based events to probe the relationship between bodies and fantasies. Inspired by a long tradition of camp aesthetics, especially Jack Smith’s homemade participatory glamour and Leigh Bowery’s extravagant perversity, Fruit Machine brings together camp and digital performance. Using Arduino microcontrollers, Bluetooth and Max/MSP/Jitter, we create physical props and costumes that actively influence screen-based and sonic events. The overall performance is more mutant musical or concert than play. As much emphasis is placed on sound as image, with props and costumes functioning as audio-visual instruments. Fruit Machine includes ten short acts: five live sections and five pre-recorded music videos. It is designed to be intimate, improvisatory and is structured to allow for revision, expansion, and excerpting.

“Fruit Machine” was a name given to a Canadian device designed during the Cold War to ferret out homosexuals from the civil service and the military. The subjects were made to view pornography, and the device measured the pupils of the eyes, perspiration, and pulse for a supposed erotic response. The word “fruit” in our title refers to both a quirky, eccentric or queer individual and to the fecund sex organs of plants. “Machine” references the rather technical engineering of the lurid and antic images. Camp codes of high artifice and excess, and camp’s self-conscious celebration of exotica are all at work here. Fruit Machine occupies a unique place at the juncture between technically sophisticated interactive media and a humble and carnivalesque aesthetics reminiscent of a folk ritual or a school play.

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Music by Brain Handle