Shall Make, Shall Be
Federal Hall National Memorial
Jul 4 - Aug 31, 2022
A new work Father Figure is on view in Shall Make, Shall Be, a group show about the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It is installed with works by nine other artists and game designers at Federal Hall, where the "Founding Fathers" wrote the Bill of Rights.
Father Figure is based on the Ninth Amendment, which reassures Americans that we have numerous rights that are not listed in the Constitution, although it's unsaid what they are.
I built America as a command-line interface, where fuller access to the system, or naturalization, is contingent on piecing together an arbitrary language, rules, and conventions, and is thereafter made a "natural" expectation.
If those unlisted American rights are naturally known, then they are apparently owned, the way that objects and ideas and people might all be owned, as private property that is seemingly always about to be lost or stolen.
Owing to the vagueness of the Ninth Amendment, I took this opportunity to drag the American individualist, an atomized user who can only grasp at straws when encountering forces beyond its own purview (such as other people, places, priorities, pandemics), to its foregone conclusion.
Fumbling toward its horizon, that user might hatch a plan to riot and break into the U.S. Capitol, in search of ... Dad?
Thanks to the organizers: R. Luke Dubois, Laine Nooney, John Sharp, Golan Levin.
(A web-playable version and further documentation of this work are forthcoming. I also demoed an early version in this online talk with the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry.)