My first kinetic sculpture, APE was a multi person operated lifesize gorilla puppet located in an old warehouse building in Radford, Nottingham. This was a part of 'Reactor', a large exhibition of interactive art 2001.
APE was a sad but also comical character, trapped by his strings whilst also dependent on them to bring him to life. A team of four members of the public could push, pull or twist wooden handles and turn wheels to control the head, arms and the back. The controls pivoted from the beams, reaching out to four corners of the room. They were quite complex but built from wood and found materials, scrap car part and bike parts..
The Ape’s figure was very expressive and people could express themselves via his movement. Meeting him or operating him connected you with others in the room. Visitors werre encouraged to share activating him and inhibitions soon disappeared. The resulting interactions were an exploration of control/dependency, power, humour, mimicry, and group co-ordination/discord, challenging our notions of being an independent entity. Real apes live and act as part of a group and do not have such an individualistic identity as humans. Perhaps they can teach us something we lost sight of?
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