Perry Hoberman
Faraday's Garden
In Faraday's Garden (1990), participants walk through a landscape of innumerable household and office appliances, power tools, projectors, radios, phonographs, and various other personal comfort devices. The floor of the room is carpeted with switch matting, a pressure-sensitive covering designed for home security systems. The machines wait silently, ready to be activated at any moment by the footfalls fo the public. When stepped upon, the switch matting triggers the various machines and appliances, creating a kind of force field of noise and activity around each viewer. As the number of participants increases, the general level of cacophony rises, creating a wildly complex symphony of machines, sounds and projections. The machines and accessories (tapes, films, slides, records) are collected from thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales. Since they span the entire 20th century, movement around the room also functions as a kind of time travel. All wires and switches are left exposed, creating an intense environment of electrical current. Interaction in Faraday's Garden fluctuates between a sense of complete and effortless control (since you don't even have to lift a finger) to the lingering and disturbing feeling that these machines are somehow alive, sensing and responding to your presence.