Marina Abramovic and her team recently succeeded in crowdsourcing over $660,000 from more than 4,700 supporters to help underwrite the first development phase to build the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI), a physical space dedicated to the "presentation and preservation of long durational work." As an artist who is interested in exploring the relationship between performers and their environs, this project was an interesting performance piece unto itself; Abramovic often places importance on the direct relationship between herself and her participatory/observatory audience, and yet, in this experiment, there was no direct interaction In Real Life. Instead, Abramovic harnessed the power of social media and the digital space to virtually reach out to as many people as possible, with the goal of eventually building a physical pantheon that, ironically, may not be so universally accessible.
(Below: Video by Milica Zec, Abramovic on her long durational work, The Artist is Present (2010), at MoMA)
One of the rewards for supporting MAI was the opportunity to experience an 8-bit video game created by Pippin Barr. Meant to be a virtual simulation of a visit to MAI, I was able to participate in a series of interactive installations such as slow motion walk and water drinking, all from the 'comforts' of sitting in front of a computer, using very simple command keys. The experience has a direct physical impact, however, as I had to constantly hold down certain keys in order to confirm my participation -- and holding down the SHIFT key for close to an hour turns out to be no easy feat! At the end, after sending in feedback, an image of a certificate of completion pops up, which was quite satisfying in a strange but very real way. Cleverly and thoroughly conceived and executed, suffice it to say that I am now, more so than before, interested in Abramovic's journey to create MAI.
(Below: images from Pippin Barr's digital MAI experience)