Constriction (1982)

Part One

The figure became the snake (a boa constrictor) and a special camouflaged house was built for it, based on a panopticon circle. The house had three areas, a camouflaged area (painted with exactly the same pattern as the snake), an all white room and a natural sand environment. On the video the snake moves endlessly through the three environments slowly searching and this is intercut with an image of the figure pinned under glass who is attempts to catch mice with her tongue. This image turns into a nuclear power plant, which is pushed out of the way by human hands. The snake eventually goes through its ecological ritual of killing and eating live white mice which are fed to it by the same human hands.

Part Two

When the audience enters the room they find themselves in the middle of a space surrounded by sand. Suspended in the room above them is a large Plexiglas box full of moving live white mice. If the viewers look towards the left wall of the room they can see their own image reflected and blended with the image of these live white mice in real time on a monitor. This monitor is buried in sand so that only the screen shows. When the viewers look to the right wall of the room they see two screen buried in more sand. Here the video of constriction with the snake eating the mice plays in an endless loop. Underneath these video displays are the Revolving Desert Simulators which play an endless symphony of scratching sounds as some kind of animals are trying to escape through the sand strewn floor.

Part Three

City intersections and town clocks are matrix and which provide ways to mediate and control the movement of human beings and in 1982 many cameras were installed to insure maximum security. In the performance of Constriction, a mediated being performs in a clock tower for 24 hours, with a set of very defined instructions. The performance inspired by the reading of Michael Foucaults "Discipline and punish" is about the concept of surveillance in capitol cities (also a type of Prison). One of these high-level security cameras, mounted on the top of the clock tower roof is aimed at the intersection below. Using a live video feed from it to the next level below inside the guts of the actual clock tower itself, the human performer acts as a notation device in comparing the movement of mice with the movement of the traffic below. Every hour one of these notations is taken down to the next level below (the galley of the tower) where they are placed in frames on the wall. Here another monitor displays the video of constriction where a snake eats the mice and a large Revolving Desert simulator mixes with the sound of traffic amplified from the windows.