Hyperessay – LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner

LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner

Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö, and Luke Turner form an artist trio known for their performance art that explores emotion, connection, and collaboration across various media.

In 2011,  The Metamodernist Manifesto was written by Luke Turner, defining metamodernism as “the mercurial condition between and beyond irony and sincerity, naivety and knowingness, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt, in pursuit of a plurality of disparate and elusive horizons,”, where he concludes with “go forth and oscillate!”. This Manifesto united the trio to collaborate and to create series of metamodern performance projects across digital and physical platforms.

Their first known appearance was #IAMSORRY, which begin on February 9, 2014, the trio attracted attention at the Berlin Film Festival, as LaBeouf arrived at the red carpet wearing a brown paper bag over his head with the words “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” written on it as he walked out of a press conference.

Video from BBC link above

LaBeouf at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival,  photograph retrieved from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/Shia_LaBeouf_Not_Famous_2014.jpg

Following the incident, the trio staged a six-day performance in a Los Angeles gallery titled as #IAMSORRY, where LaBeouf with the paper bag, silently cries in front of visitors, who were allowed to enter the exhibition room he sits at, one at a time, after being invited to choose an item from a table of objects to take in with them. Various journalists experienced the performance and felt emotions of disturbance, his presence, and that contemporary art has more than it meets the eye.

The trio are modern artists who incorporates technology and interaction with the public to create  platforms that help to strengthen their messages, which I find relevant to our topics “Interactivity” and “Hypermedia”.

Artwork project chosen – #TAKEMEANYWHERE, 2016

Every day for a month, the trio would post their current coordinates online with the hashtag #TAKEMEANYWHERE and wait to hitchhike. Whoever appears are allowed to take them to any location of their choosing. Their journey could be tracked in real time at take-me-anywhere.net during the duration of the project, while their route and destination entirely placed in the hands of the public. As Turner describes the project, “we’re all putting our trust in the collective, in the networks—they’re deciding, they’re determining what unfolds,” this project’s success falls completely in the control of the public. As an “interactive piece”, the public would be the ones that determine how the piece is formed and what the end result would be like, as the artists only follow the flow.

Journey of the trio, image retrieved from http://luketurner.com/images/takemeanywhere_map.jpg

While this project is not directly related to “hypermedia”, the nonlinear concept could be felt in the process of creation. Hypermedia focuses on the experience being unique as the user may access the same information in various different orders, such as through a different flow of hyperlinks. In #TAKEMEANYWHERE, the trio crosses the country and encounters many people along their journey and learns more about those they came across. However, unlike a traditional experience such as watching a documentary, the experience of meeting people has the element of “entropy”, where they do not know who to expect to meet, or in what order they garner new information or content for this project. In a sense the public, while controlling how the project flows, also has the control over how linear their journey might be, or how expanse it could be. This brings us back to the consideration of “interactivity”, as this project would be incomplete without the connection with the public. Besides the control over their route, the trio also extends their experience by learning more about the people who offer them the hitchhike. As such, rather than piloting the experience, the public becomes part of the experience.

Onto the mechanic aspects, the project involves the global positioning system, which allows the trio to post their coordinates daily and keep the public aware on what is going on, how to project is working out, as viewable from the link shared above. This project uses technology to extend out reach to a large audience in an instant which allows awareness and the ability for the public to react in response. As Roy Ascott mentions, interactive art should free itself from the modernist ideal of the “perfect object”, and artwork should be responsive to the viewer rather than fixed and static. To allow such spatial difference in movement across the country (the trio resulted in Alaska), the project shows that entropy can be helpful to the project, as the lack of direction and randomness leads to unexpected encounters from the artist’s point of view, while keeping the excitement level for the public’s point of view, as they too would be interested where the trio ends up the next day.

In conclusion the trio creates less-than-conventional artworks that could result and differing outcomes and engage different emotions by how it is perceived. Depending on how art is directed, there are more methods to present it than just display in a gallery; interactive pieces can bring the public into the piece, letting them not just have unique experiences, but even alter how the piece turns out. This makes the art connected to the public in a more emotionally deep level. And being able to direct art in such a way, I would have to say Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö, and Luke Turner does their job well.

More information on the trio’s projects can be found here.