Thesis Proposal
PROJECT: Toaster Fandango (working title)

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This installation/performance will be an exploration of anthropomorphic qualities inherent in small household appliances. Small household appliances will be "liberated" from their previous duties and forms. The appliances will be enhanced by various means and be "taught" motor skills to enable them to fully realize their suppressed ambulatory desires. Once the appliances are fully mobile they will become full actors and dancers in an interpretive dance piece exploring the nature of the machine in a world of humans.
The piece also aims to highlight the relationship between cause and effect in electronic mediums. As machines become more and more reliant on electronics and computer chips to drive their functionality, the relationship between user input and machine output becomes increasingly disjointed. The physical action of flipping a switch is completely unrelated to the effect the switch will have on one's surroundings. In addition, this action of flipping the switch can have multiple outcomes. One switch controls a light bulb, another may launch Patriot Missles into residential areas of small Middle Eastern countries. The psychological phonomena of this type of layered multiplicity of meaning affects the way we view the world. In the mechanical age this relationship may have been more distinct. A pulley was used to lift large objects and the user intereaction required to utilize this tool was synthesized with the action itself.
In this piece, I plan to use (but not limited to) the following items as actors in the interpretive dance piece: toasters, blenders, small vacuum cleaners and any other small appliance I happen upon which would be appropriate. The appliances will be fitted with wheels, legs or other mechanical devices which would enable them to move from one spot to another. The type of mobility for each object will depend upon the physical characteristics of that object taking into account its shape and personality inherent in the design. An example may be a toaster that hops, or a blender that twirls.
These objects will have communication devices which will enable them to both receive messages from a central "brain" and communicate with each other. These communications will serve to direct their movements across a stage. At the moment, I am planning on using Infared (IR) communication to engage the objects on a larger (meta) scale, but also use a more local form of communication to sense proximity of objects to each other. This local communication may be in the form of physical switches or Radio Frequency (RF). The choice for local communication will depend on explorations that will occur during this semester.
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