Perry Hoberman
Meat & Potatoes (1986) is an installation based on certain key elements distilled from fairy tales. Participants are greeted by three drumming panda bears (toys that were ubiquitous at one time in New York due to the temporary residence of some Chinese pandas at the Bronx Zoo). The bears' drums have been replaced with stretched reflective mylar panels, and images projected onto these mirrors are reflected onto the wall behind. The bears, triggered by timers, start drumming without warning, creating a deafening racket and causing the images behind them to shake like jelly. Once the visitor makes it past the bears, s/he enters a dark and oppressive forest of spotlights on stands that occasionally begin to fire randomly, illuminating and recharging phosphorescent paintings of insects on the walls and ceiling. At the far end of the corridor, three precisely spotlit potatoes beckon silently. As the user carefully makes his/her way towards the potatoes, they metamorphosize one by one into compact discs (a trick accomplished via the classic "Pepper's Ghost" illusion, which involves a two-way mirror and controlled lighting). The "wish" of the viewer comes true; the lowly tuber is transformed what was at the time (1986) into the ultimate high-tech fetish.