Slapper – Nikolas Diamant
As a kid I was exposed to videos of extreme sexual acts, torture, death, etc. on the internet, which is pretty much standard for people my age. Even on the comedy sections of the most mainstream sites, there is the occasional murder documented on video. I know people who went deeper into this sort of thing, beyond just what is inescapable as a regular consumer, and into parts of the internet which are truly fucked up. I cannot speak for my generation, but for me this exposure to extreme content has had a numbing effect. I can no longer really be surprised by anything on the internet.
In order to do an intervention of some kind which reflected this idea, it wouldn’t suffice to make something embedded in the internet. No matter how intentional and directed my ideas, the sheer volume of internet traffic ensures that someone would accidentally make a more perfect demonstration of whatever phenomenon I chose. Instead, I took the machine of desensitization into the real world with a mechanical device which slaps me in the face with a computer keyboard.
The mechanism works with two people, the peddler and the slapee. The peddler cranks to drive the wooden arm around in circles. Every inch that they move is multiplied by six over a chain and gears. At the end of the wooden arm is a computer keyboard, which the slapee must stand in front of in order to get clocked in the jaw, cheek, and temple. The whole machine is covered in wires and outdated technology.
When performing with the piece in public, a few people watched from afar, some took videos, and some interacted although no one was comfortable operating the machine besides my assistant Liam McGuire. Most people just ignored it after first glance.