Art's Birthday: Scrambled_Bites

Jan 16 — 18, 2004

Gathering, Installation, Media Artwork, Performance


Grand Luxe Hall, Western Front / Offsite / Online


Art’s Birthday was a tradition started by French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou who declared, on Jan 17, 1963, that Art had been born exactly 1,000,000 years prior when somebody dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. Over many decades, artists have continued to organize annual celebrations in the spirit of Filliou’s “Eternal Network” or “La Fête permanente.” 

The project Scrambled_Bites served as the conceptual framework for this year’s Art’s Birthday celebrations by means of interacting, controlling, and triggering remote and telepresent artistic works through data streaming—activities that build on Art’s Birthday’s established explorations of telematic performance and streaming. A publication was produced documenting these activities upon completion of the project.

The multi-day program began on Jan 16 with informal exchanges and test connections between remote participants. The following day featured celebrations, performances, and installations by a number of artists.

Connected by webcam, Margaret Dragu and Tagny Duff (in Montréal) chose thirteen performance actions they had seen and re-enacted them through their own metamorphosis of memory, time, and gesture. 

Following this, Dragu adopted the persona of Art, and went for a drive in the Artist Run Limousine, eventually looping back to be fêted in the Grand Luxe Hall where she served cava to the attendees. The journey's path, in the form of Audiomobile X-Y coordinates, was streamed to the data-streaming software “the Scrambler.”

Arts Annual Exam: or More Hospitals Use Unsterilized Instruments was a shadow play of uniformed nurses and probing performed by Cease Wyss, Paul Lang, Lynn Hill, and Thirza Cuthand.

The various installations in the Grand Luxe Hall were activated by the whims of the Scrambler’s data stream and signals. This included a drink mixing machine, skeletons, and a giant Etch A Sketch machine.

Ken Gregory’s Cake Crusher was a motorized toilet seat lid that moved along a steed rod, hovering above a cake. It was activated remotely by celebrants in Winnipeg swinging a sledgehammer to move the toilet seat down, thus crushing the cake below. Ironically, the motor was only strong enough to crush the top two-thirds of the cake. 

Hank Bull played piano variations on the theme of "Happy Birthday" among the soundtrack of relay clicks, motor turns, and other noises of the installations.

Festivities wrapped up on Jan 18 with a brunch gathering and radio jam with Kunstradio in Vienna, Austria.

Video documentation is available upon request.

Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.