Coming up next in our series of interviews with Burning Man 2014 Honorarium Art Projects comes Shing Yin Khor, a creature creator, storyteller, and all around amazing artist. Her project, The Last Outpost was placed on the very edge of the playa. Only the dedicated Burning Man attendees made it out this isolated destination, but in doing so they were rewarded with a mysterious interactive art installation. The Last Outpost presented a space for visitors to act in their own individual stories. Upon entering this detail oriented structure, visitors were invited to interpret the strange scribbled notes, warped surveillance camera footage and the rusty cages filled with dolls heads however they chose to. One thing remained clear however, there was some kind of underlying story within this outpost which would spark almost anyone’s curiosity.
Shing Yin Khor is an established artist who has been recognized by her quirky sculptures of fantastical bugs and funny creatures. The Last Outpost was a beautiful example of what her magical mind could create on a larger scale. In this interview we were able to dive deeper into that magical mind and learn all about the creation process.
1. What was the initial idea behind creating The Last Outpost. Did this initial idea stay relevant throughout, or did the project begin to take on a life of its own as it was being created?
The initial idea behind the Last Outpost was always about creating the broad strokes of a world and narrative and inviting others(my crew and the audience) to play along with it. The central story of the Black Rock Civilian Defense Corps - basically a group of people who were forced to defend against an unseen post apocalyptic darkness - that story stayed strong until the very end, but what surprised me was how willing people were to build their own narratives that fit into the world as well. Even most of the graffiti left on our art was actually thematic, and our “guest logbooks” were filled with desperate cries for help, and journal entries that were entirely in character. It was always our intention to leave what actually happened deliberately vague - we hoped that everyone would populate that almost-extinction event with their deepest fears.
Someone left a dead mouse in our cage…so that was interesting. My husband, Jason, put a note next to it that said “deadmau5 played the Last Outpost.”
The one thread that I am so glad the Outpost followed were the contributions from two members of my crew, Jenn(U-Vee) and Caddy. They are the curators at East Jesus - an art collective by the Salton Sea, where the Outpost is headed for permanent install later this year. I initially invited Jenn to do lighting design, and Caddy to do carpentry and material scrounging, but the narrative flair and worldbuilding they brought to the project really rounded out a lot of our story. And, the ridiculous details(the shotgun shell lights, for instance) and haphazard material assemblage and props they were able to provide really elevated the visual look of Outpost into something that really had a layered and textured personality.
2. You have a background in theatre and prop making. What skills from that background carried over into the creation of The Last Outpost?
Well, all of them. The Outpost was not a complex project, carpentry or prop wise - anyone who’s had a semester of stagecraft could do it. But the experience of running large work crews and working on tight deadlines gave me the confidence to feel like I could get through many build weekends, truck loads, a whole week of building on playa, and still have my friends on crew(and my husband) generally like me as a person and benevolent dictator. Basically, if I emerged from this project with my friendships and marriage intact, I would have considered it a success,
Honestly though, I had the most amazing crew. We only had about nine core crew members and a very small handful of volunteers, but I had a crew that was far more competent than necessary for this particular project. I don’t know how I ended up being able to surround myself with such skilled, talented and hardworking people, but I am extremely grateful for it.
3. What was your main source of inspiration for creating this project? How did you look upon this inspiration throughout your projects creation?
My crew and I are a bunch of giant nerds. We play lots of videogames and watch lots of sci-fi. Honestly, I think the tropes of a post apocalyptic survivalist world are pretty much already in our blood.
I’m obsessed over the idea of heroic futility too - hope and perseverance in the face of despair and loneliness; where the real triumph of the human spirit is in its brave resistance in the face of certain death. I think that Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” encapsulates that emotion perfectly. It is the poem that my friend Matthew Mercer reads in the final Outpost room; that was in the first draft of this piece, and I’m so glad that it stayed intact.
4. What came first? The story behind The Last Outpost or the structure itself?
The general story. I hammered out the name of the Black Rock Civilian Defense Corps shortly before we heard about our grant and we carried on from there. The structure is just a stack of platforms and walls that was designed to be structurally stable enough and efficient and easy to build. We worked on the narrative as we went along, but we kept on adding to it, even when we were technically done on Saturdaynight.
5. If you had to, how would you categorize The Last Outpost? Performance Art? Large Scale Installation? Immersive Theatre? Or Maybe none or maybe a combination of them all?
Well, the first line of my grant proposal was “The Last Outpost is an experiment in large scale immersive and narrative art that expects and begs to be explored, touched, read, climbed.” So…that, probably. Maybe immersive theatre without any actors? I was a scenic designer by trade, so I’ve always felt compelled to see how many stories you can tell from just a set piece alone. Or rather, the audience becomes the actors.
My favourite story this year was that apparently DPW started bringing people out there and stranding them there(we were over a mile from the city). Also, there was apparently a DPW singalong where they brought out a band and sang apocalypse and zombie songs. I honestly can’t think of a better thing than having an audience that is totally into playing along with us.
6. What did you hope people would take away from their experience at The Last Outpost? Do you think you were successful in this?
I hoped that people would play, basically. There’s a lot of really beautiful, big, art at Burning Man but I wanted to have a more intimate story experience. I wanted people to feel like they were being enveloped in our narrative. I do think we were pretty successful.
7. Were there any special moments when you came to The Last Outpost and saw someone interacting with it completely in line with the story you had in mind? What was the general feedback you received? Anything particularly inspiring?
For the first few days of the event, I kept on telling people that the swing at the Outpost was oriented to face the sunrise. I didn’t actually get out there for a sunrise until Saturday morning, but I met three different people there who had remembered and came out to the Outpost to watch it. Unfortunately for them, I claimed the swing for me and my friend/crewmember Echo, who was patient enough to haul out there with me. Oh well, we built it; we get the good seats.
Also, Sasha, another one of my crewmembers, came across someone reading “his” journal. He said hi, and the guy was apparently surprised and thrilled to meet him.
I think one of my favourite moments was when I made it out there in the Friday dust storm to fix some things. I’d gotten lost in the dust storm for almost two hours, and ended up at the trash fence, so when I finally made it to the Outpost, I was pretty tired and grumpy.
That was when the Nautilus X stopped by, with a whole buttload of kids from Kidsville. I was a bit skeptical about having that many kids around, but this one kid ran out with the biggest smile on his face screaming “IT’S A MAD SCIENTIST LAB!!!” and that was just so great. The dude that runs the Nautilus X(Captain Nemo!) found me and gave me a sparkling apple cider and it was the most delicious thing I’d ever had(it was just a regular sparkling cider - but context matters a lot). And I met his husband, and we are both from the same very small Southeast Asian country, so that was pretty cool!
I’m still amazed that someone left us a dead mouse. The rest of my crew is far more thrilled about dead animal gifts than I am(I’m just squeamish) and loved it.
Almost all the feedback we received was wonderful. The one that probably meant the most was when Logan, the head of the DPW, came out when we were tearing down to tell us how much him and his crew liked the project. I mean, these are the people that built the whole goddamn city, and are sort of famous for being giant curmudgeons - they liked our little project and we were all really grateful and honored by that.
8. Setting up an art installation on the playa is one of the most difficult tasks for an artist given the nature of the elements and the curious people who explore it. Were there any big problems that arose in the creation/maintenance of The Last Outpost way out there in the deep playa?
Not really; we’re a pretty organized crew, honestly! Part of our crew was delayed by a couple of days(the part with the food and a bathroom), which meant that for the first day or so, the nearest portapotties were over a mile away. That was not fun, but the Black Rock Supper Club fed us, and a DPW friend gave us rides when we desperately had to poop. For me, it was a lesson in planning to be radically self reliant, but if things go wrong and you’re willing to accept help, the playa still somehow provides.
The rainstorm on Monday knocked out some of our lighting circuits, but most of them survived and we were able to repair enough of it that it would still look cool. We had a few more visitors that we really anticipated, so we were constantly going over to fix things, but that was actually pretty fun too.
And not a huge problem, but an annoying one - people straight up stealing shit from the installation. I don’t mind some props disappearing, like our “cans of beans” and specimen jars, but we had a really cool replica gun there that was stolen on Saturday night(it was lashed down quite well). We were prepared for that eventuality, but it still sucked.
9. What advice would you give to artists who would like to bring their own art to Burning Man?
The Artery and Art Support are your friends and they work really hard to make your art happen. Be nice to them.
Even in perfect weather, playa conditions are pretty rough, and you’ll likely take twice as long to set up your installation as you anticipated. It’s hard and exhausting labour, and there’s a non-zero chance you’ll go over budget and take much longer than expected to get back home. It’s a bit dangerous and quite expensive. It is pretty miserable, and often stressful and irritating, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll strain important relationships. You’re going to feel like you’ve been run over by a steamroller coated in alkali dust, and you’ll probably going to get sick during event week. And it’s absolutely amazing and fulfilling and unbelievably rewarding, and you should do it, with no regrets.
Interview by: Molly Ebner
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It’s never too early to start planning what to offer your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. These remarkably/horrifyingly lifelike gummy grubs and caterpillars would make awesome Halloween treats. Although they may look like they just wriggled out of your nightmares, they’re actually handmade, fruit-filled sweets. They’re made in Japan at Akai Tento no Koohii Ten (The Red Tent Coffee Shop), a small coffee stand located on the east coast of Aomori Prefecture.
We can’t stop staring at these photos, because we’re convinced one of the grubs is about to twitch. Akai Tento is a small business, but these amazingly unsettling creepy-crawly gummy candies have earned the shop nationwide (and now international) attention.
Each of Akai Tento’s gruesome gummies is available to buy individually or in packs (or perhaps that should be clutches?) via Yahoo! Japan Shopping, and cost between 300 and 350 yen (US$2.80-3.20) each.
(via hazardoushero)Source: archiemcphee
- 5 days ago
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Someone here on Tumblr stole the picture of my pants and I’m super bloody angry about it.
So I’m uploading it myself now and already contacted the Tumblrsupport because I want to have the fake one deleted.
It hurts so much that the stupid stolen one hit 50k that’s just bullshit and I wanna cry
The next time you wanna upload that s*it of mine you gon’ ask me got it??
So yeah those are the nearly finished pants i painted for my Nisha-cosplay.
Nothing more to say…
here’s my site which is also the source:
(via nooby-banana)Source: kira-meku
- 1 month ago
A beautifully done interpretation of the Slytherin dorms.
The pool of water/ceiling light is based on the idea of an aristocratic Roman impluvium/compluvium. Gryffindor has a furnace in the center of the dorm rooms, so it seemed like an nice yin-yang effect as Gryffindor=fire and Slytherin=water. I’m not sure if the compluvium would magically let rainwater (and snow, and hail!?) in from the lake above, or not. I think it should.
(via cleolinda)Source: charlottemclaggen
I honestly had to read that title twice to understand they were saying they need the franchise to live on, not that they wanted to “keep Katniss alive within the Games” as a theme park. (But they would/will if they built the park anyway, I all but guarantee it.)
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Execution, however, could be difficult. Building a great roller coaster takes a different skill set than creating something thrilling for the cinema. Disney, it should be noted, is a resort company first and a moviemaker second. In the past five years, it collected 30 percent of its revenue in its parks vs. 15 percent via its film studio. The parks were more profitable, too, with an operating margin of 14 percent vs. 12 percent in the movie division.
Of course, the real money is in merchandise. Disney realizes a 22 percent profit margin on its consumer products. As Lions Gate looks at theme parks, the lesson is clear: Go heavy on theHunger Gamesgift shops.
Hear that, kids? It’s all about them gift shops. I’ll just let you ruminate on that for a moment.