Jan 14, 2013 0
Sep 24, 2012 0
Every Sunday in October, we are excited to present a project by UCLA’s Game Lab in which visitors to the Melrose Trading Post will be invited to make their own costumes and characters, and play a Live Action Role Playing game (LARP) with the entire swap meet as their arena.
The rules of the game will be created by Game Lab students and members of the public who’d like to attend a free workshop on LARP design held Tuesday, October 2nd and Thursday, October 4th from 6pm to 9pm at the UCLA Game Lab (Broad Art Center, room 3252).
Participants will be required to pretend they are fairies from outer space.
Then, every Sunday in October, Game Labbers/space fairies will turn Mastodon Mesa into the headquarters for Trading Post visitors to craft their own costumes and learn the rules of the game.
Success will be rewarded with prizes such as trophies and photo opportunities.
David Elliott, manager of the UCLA Game Lab, says about the project, “Live Action Role Play (LARPing) is seen as marginal or niche; as being only for people like Civil War re-enactors. But it’s something we’ve all done as children. LARPing isn’t really a ‘game,’ it’s interactive theater. There can be rules, and a LARP can be many things, but at base it’s a group of people agreeing to share a fantasy together.
“We want to turn people on to the idea of playacting as an accessible form of entertainment. Everyone has playacted as a child, and most people grow out of it—but it’s not something you need to grow out of.”
We are interested in bringing this particular adventure to the swap meet because it reminds us of the concept of neotany in evolution. Neotany is when traits of the juvenile form are retained in adulthood. Many of humans’ best aspects, such as the ability to learn, be affectionate, and an innate desire to cooperate, are thought to be the result of psychological neotany. So, by being space fairies on Sunday, we may actually be advancing the species.
Costume supplies are provided in part by Culver City’s reDiscover Center, which takes materials discarded by local businesses and reuses them for art and education.
Jul 17, 2012 0
“Los Angeles Doesn’t Suck. It’s actually one hell of a place, but if it’s so amazing, then why do people from all around the world think our city is full of fake bastards? The city of angels is the sum of it’s residents, so what kind of person has LA made you? Call in to share your story, 213.444.1885. Sincerely Mister Whitmore.”
Every Sunday in July
Apr 15, 2012 0
Catching up on some posts here.
Weirdness, Johnny Rogers, recorders and the rise of the proleteriat brought to you by frequent Mesa collaborator, or should we say fellow-traveler, Luke.
Apr 13, 2012 0
Apr 6, 2012 2
“Alexithymia” pronounced (Alex-ee-time-eeya): from the Greek lexis (word) and thymos (feelings); lit. “a lack of words for feelings.” People who experience Alexithymia are unable to recognize or describe their own emotions, or the emotional experience of others.
But…why is it that we feel we must be able to describe our emotions in words? And that the lack of the ability to do so is some kind of disorder, worthy of Greek naming? Surely, in our evolutionary development, the experience of having emotions long preceded the ability to speak. And, as social creatures, we must have had the ability to perceive and act upon others’ emotions even before that time. Facial expressions and body language are, of course, methods we still use to discern each other’s feelings. However, in this tent, we can explore whether there might not be another method, one which has long been lost to consciousness for the “civilized” person: via the sense of smell.
We were all told as children that “dogs can smell fear.” This is actually true. Smell is the sense that enables animal life-forms to distinguish the chemical signature of molecules in their environment, with varying degrees of sensitivity by species. And since “fear” means, physiologically speaking, “releasing a lot of the molecule called ‘adrenaline’”—a dog is able to perceive that event in another’s body via its sharp sense of smell.
Humans are renowned for being comparative numb-noses in the animal kingdom. Some studies, however, indicate that we get a lot more information through our sense of smell than we are conscious of. One experiment conducted by Claus Wedekind of the University of Bern, Switzerland revealed that women are more attracted to the scent of men whose genes for immune system function are most different from the woman’s own. This is because the genes in the major histocompatibility complex (the key component of the immune system) also affect the proteins that make up body odor.
Since our emotions, and particularly, our moods, are associated with the level of various neurotransmitters in our brains—what if we too are constantly identifying the emotional states of others by smelling the molecular signatures of these neurotransmitters, below the level of consciousness, before the formation of words?
Which brings us to the name of this tent. “La pensée opératoire” or “operational thinking” is a term for a cognitive style often associated with alexithymia, and with autism as well. It means that the affected person is not “mentalizing” abstract thought, but rather going straight to producing behavior without verbalizing to themselves what is going on in their mind. Again—is this necessarily pathological? Or could it be a way of being that predates speech, and that we can all still access, and might want to feel free to experience at times if we choose?
Finally…kissing. A human behavior which is no more “natural” than wearing clothes. In fact, many cultures historically did not kiss; the behavior seems to have originated in India, and was picked up and popularized by the Greeks and Romans. Some theorize that kissing originally came from mothers chewing up and regurgitating food to infants during weaning. However, there are many examples of cultures that wean in this manner, and yet do not kiss. So, another possible explanation, derived from observing customs such as the Inuit “Eskimo kiss,” which (rather than the popular depiction of rubbing noses) is actually performed by inhaling the odor of the other’s cheek—is that kissing came from smelling others in greeting. Something that, we see, can potentially give you a lot of information, from the person’s health, to their suitability as a mate, to their mood.
So, in this tent, an exercise in non-verbal communication, to see if we can access that info, and enter into the world of the pensée opératoire:
1. Sit comfortably facing your partner.
2. Lean towards them as if for an “air kiss,” close your eyes, and breathe deeply the smell of their cheek.
3. While smelling, relax, and let your mind go blank.
4. Rather than searching for words, allow an image, feeling, or behavioral urge to come into your mind.
5. Within the bounds of polite appropriateness, and the laws of the state of California, act out the wordless cognition you have had in some way.
6. If you are the “smell-ee”, let the other person know if their action felt good to you (felt right for your mood), or felt like it clashed with what you were feeling. At this point, both partners can articulate what they experienced if desired.
7. Yo holmes, smell ya later.
Jan 29, 2012 0
Oct 7, 2011 0
In the LA Weekly Style Council blog — check it out!
Oct 4, 2011 0
With the above phrase, one of Chris Weisbart’s opening-week patrons summed ZŌO up nicely after we answered her initial question — “What the hell is that?”
all photographs by Graham Kolbeins
Oct 2, 2011 0
Chris Weisbart is an artist, hardware hacker and multimedia developer at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles where he spends his time making exhibits that glow, talk, animate and interact with the public. While his typical habitat is in dark corners of the museum where light and projection can be carefully controlled, he is taking one month of Sundays and bringing his various electronic components and gadgetry out of the cave and into the light for the public to see first hand how some of these effects are created.
Joining him most days will be various collaborators and co-conspirators who will unite under the sole purpose of showing people that technology is not something to be afraid of, but instead something that can be beaten with submission using a soldering iron and some carefully placed whacks with a hammer.
Since it is October, the prospective projects he will be tinkering with on-site will probably have a ghoulish theme (Halloween, after all, is the multimedia developers favorite holiday), but there will be some hastily glued together projects such as holograms and hovercrafts and possibly even some robotically re-animated stuffed animals.
Join him and spend some time spinning old junk and bits of plastic into unique new creations… just be careful, like all zoo animals Chris and his cohorts do actually bite.