RAY GUN THEATER

 

 

Oldenburg wanted his studio to function as a field of action by including active participants, which he called Happenings. These events now only exist as film documentation. Recently the Whitney displayed recently rarely seen footage off some of these events. Although they wanted to evoke the experience of his Happenings, I was shocked to see all seven video screens playing films simultaneously in a tight space, one on top of each other sounds intermingling with the next one. Instead of presenting these films as the artifacts they are, it tries to offer them as new moments of action. There is no direct give and take between the artist and audience and the contextual moment of their time is not at play. I wanted to experience Oldenburg’s original intentions, so I got involved like the original participants would have been asked to do. Undeterred by the Whitney’s no photography policy, I took out my camera and clandestinely took over 5 thousand still images from Oldenburg’s film Ray Gun Theater which were then edited into a new 25-minute abstract film which I now held control over. This film can now be presented anywhere at any time, to any audience I want.  I can project it on the side of a Walmart or at an art event and invite the community to become a part of it and experience it closer to Oldenburg’s intention.  By creating a version following Oldenburg's parameters, I am closer to experiencing the integrity of the original piece.