Vacancy KIT



Vacancy KIT

The first KIT solo exhibition takes place at Galerie Observatoire 4, Montréal, Canada in 1995. The ‘new-media installation’ is an interactive sculptural work activated by credit cards.

Themes, which run through many of KIT’s projects – escape architecture, heterotopia, prosthetics and vacated urban space, are all present in this initial installation work. Having been interested in vacant city lots in Montréal, a process of photographic and audio documentation had already begun in 1994. Recording the ways in which people utilised vacant spaces informed KIT as to the degree in which urban planning shapes the psycho-geogrpahic lives of city inhabitants. The vacant lot becomes a temporary space allowing unsanctioned forms of social behaviour to develop and as such, in return, becomes a space that is highly surveilled by the organisations of civil enforcement.

A simple analogy can be made between a gallery and a vacant lot, in that they both await presence to be inscribed upon their space. The construction of a vacant city lot in a gallery reverses the process via which a space becomes empty. In the city, a building or set of buildings are demolished or deconstructed rendering a space empty. For Vacany Kit, a deliberate act of acquiring the symbols and signifiers of vacancy became the strategy for constructing a space of emptiness within the gallery. Each night for a week, at 1 o’clock in the morning a van is driven to a vacant lot and the rubble that lies on the ground is shovelled into bags. The bags are transported to the gallery and the contents are emptied onto the floor.

With the tips reaching the gallery walls, a pentangle of rubble is amassed in the gallery and 5 fake concrete blocks placed at the periphery of each side, raised in the air they have all been mounted on wheels. At the corner of each block a strap-on belt from a prosthetic limb protrudes out of the concrete and hangs down the side of the blocks, 4 belts adorning each block. Appearing to be awaiting the presence of a body, the concrete blocks look like a cross between hospital gurneys (wheeled stretchers used for transporting patients) and sacrificial stone tables.

One of the concrete blocks has a different structure however. Whilst sharing all the attributes previously listed, it has a square hole in the top of the block and a computer monitor sunk into the void, 2 inches below the stone surface. Running down the right-hand side of the monitor, a number of slots in the concrete await a credit card to initiate interaction. Referencing a ‘Bank Autoteller’ machine, the interactive nature of the computer program depends solely on the insertion of plastic.

By inserting a card, the audience are faced with a human map of available prosthetics on the computer monitor. Each part of the human body, which can be substituted, is shown with a gap between each replacement technology. Akin to the narrative of the film Fantastic Voyage, the audience is asked to extend their presence beyond the exterior body and traverse interior pathways between fake organs and limbs. As the concrete blocks, which sit on the rubble, are fabricated from wood and cement, they, like the diagram of prosthetics, become a set in which to interact with. In this sense the work reflexively questions the constructed dynamics of interactive installations which set up an agenda to merely enable the audience to pick from a number of pre-determined choices.

Mimicking the interaction of the auto-teller, the computer program in the concrete block offers blunt questions with one of 4 choices to be opted for via the insertion of a card in the chosen slot. Sacrificing agency for results, the player is directed around the prosthetic body searching for concrete vacancy, an empty space which can be neither replicated nor replaced.

Vacancy KIT exhibits at the following gallery –

1995   Galerie Observatoire 4 (Montréal, Canada)