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Bean Bag Crisis

Bean Bag Crisis


“Bean Bag Crisis” was the third project using our stage set room. In this project we tested how complex machinery we could expect the audience to operate. We set a surrealistic scene in the first room the audience met, an enormous blood red bean bag had burst a seam spilling out six cubic meters styrofoam balls. Two scale models of wheeled loaders scurried about in a hopeless attempt at trying to contain the catastrophe.


In 1969 the original “Sacco” or Bean Bag chair was designed by Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro. Having lived through the 1980s revival of this chair we saw it as a humorous analogy to the futility of human need for controlling chaos – if a Sacco chair got a tear, the millions of small styrofoam balls inside, always statically charged, would stick to everything and be impossible to clean up.

In the next exhibition room, our stage set had been changed to a surrealistic version of an industrial control room. The interior was made for maximum impact: gloss pink aluminum floor, mint green walls, bright yellow Luigi Colani chairs and a black Star Wars style plastic ceiling, animated white slime balls leaving pink and red trails pressed against the windows. Two Michelin Men (Bib Camion) were the only light source, a clock ticked ominously. To top it off an endless loop of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Taxi played on a hidden sound system creating a borderline hysteric version of elevator music with the occasional taxi “hooonk” every time the loop started again.

The audience were not allowed inside the catastrophe area for two reasons, the first being that the styrofoam had to be contained to some degree and having the audience inside the room would spread the styrofoam to every room in the art museum. The second reason was safety: the small hydraulic cylinders were extremely powerful and the wheeled loaders, being magnets to small kids, had the potential to become remote-controlled.

The two wheeled loaders were surprisingly easy for the audience to control. We had anticipated some difficulties since the loaders turn using their pivot point between the front and rear axles,  and because in addition to the basic forward, backwards, right and left – the audience had to control the front loading arm and bucket. A side effect of the articulated steering was that since the camera was mounted inside the cab, behind the pivot point, the camera moved left when the controller turned right, and arsy versy. To make things more intuitive we transmitted sound and full colour video from the loaders and changed to a fisheye camera lens to give as wide viewing angle as possible.

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