In this site we invite the visitor to explore the images, artifacts, written texts, and our installation, Out of the Box.
The aim of our collaborative effort during the Comedy of Things workshop was to experiment with the boundaries of anthropology as a limit-testing discipline by rehearsing classical anthropological themes through installation.
Out of the Box consists of a veiled cosmos in the form of a mobile. Beneath the veils are the things that each of us was asked to bring to the workshop, as humorous material signifiers of our personal and ethnographic lives. The installation hovers over the heavy black box that was used to transport the piece from our workshop world to museum sites elsewhere – and into unknown futures.
In this sense, those who visit our anthropological cosmos are bearing witness to ethnography as installation.
As planned, visitors will receive small black boxes with prompts that invite them to interact with the installation. As they do this, they make and remake the cosmos in their own terms – engaging with the experience of discovering a new world, and of personalizing that world. This experience unfolds in lifting the veils as prompted – but at random, using their imaginations to create a mythic narrative inspired by each object which relates to other objects, until all the hidden things are unveiled. While they are engaged in this highly particular work, speakers will broadcast our intellectual exchanges and questions concerning our unfolding project – in effect, englobling the visitor with our process, on whichever level they wish to relate to it (that is, at a remove, as a soft anthropological soundscape, or on the level of particular ideas).
In addition to the serious play of world-making, the visitor will have access to written materials that include a manual for installation, and our individual comic narratives from “home” and “field”. In this way, their own narratives will be opened to intertwining with those produced by the collective’s. Visitors will also find documents containing our individual and collective thoughts on both the Out of the Box installation, and on the Comedy of Things as an event.
Finally, during the workshop we produced two short films. “The Rose” and “Discovering Out of the Box”. We created these moving images to communicate moments in our project’s social life to the other collaborative groups, as they did for us, at the end of each working day. In the process, the possibility that what we had been engaged in doing was anything other than ethnographic work shaped concretely in the play of dissoluble ideas was revealed as a joke.