Gelitin and Tantamounter 24/7 at Leo Koenig

waiting for a copy

You have five more days to join in what will surely be remembered as one of the strangest and most delightful gallery experiences of the season, Gelitin's performance/installation at Leo Koenig on West 23rd Street.

From the Performa 05 website:

Viennese art collective Gelitin (Ali Janka, Wolfgang Gantner, Tobias Urban, and Florian Reither) will install and inhabit Tantamounter 24/7 a giant “copy-duplicator-transformation machine” for seven days and nights at Leo Koenig Gallery. The machine will be operated by the Gelitin artists under close supervision of a bankrupt psychiatrist. Visitors will be invited to insert any object, idea, or smell into the entry port, for duplication in the machine, and after an announced waiting time the input object and its duplicate will be ejected through the exit slot. The machine will be a sealed chamber of creativity with no connection to the outside world for the duration of the installation.

This afternoon Barry and I visited the box, intent on avoiding the weekend crowds*. Each of us was carrying an offering for the machine. Looking around for a precious posession, as we were advised by a friend, we first had the idea of bringing Sweetpea in his little traveling box. In the end the thought of the possible shock for either parakeet or artists made us look elsewhere.

We brought a neat old wind-up alarm clock and a favorite small houseplant. The clock went into the magic hopper first, and within twenty minutes or so it came back out accompanied by a truly wonderful, whimsical imitation, . . . err, tantamount, which boasted an old blue beer cozy for a housing, hand-inked numbers, two twisted paperclips for hands, two rubber feet from a small appliance, and, composing a top alarm shut-off button and controls for the back of the new "clock," various odds and ends of the kind found in the bottom of what my mother always called the junk drawer.

The plant was in the box for a much longer time, but the lovingly-crafted copy we found behind the door when the light went on was really spectacular. The Tantamounter had even accounted for the bits of perlite visible on the surface of the real soil by including some glossy dots and one tiny mother-of-pearl drop embedded in the Sculpey-soil.

insert object when light goes on

which one will need the sun?

actually, although the installation is open 24/7, as advertised, I think much of the fun is watching other folks come into the gallery with their own objects, and then seeing what eventually comes out of this extraordinarily imaginative machine

ADDENDUM: I've added images of the alarm clock and its tantamount below.



Some years ago, my mother seemed to think that this is how fax machines worked - that you could quite literally insert an object into a fax machine at one location and have it emerge at the other.

In the same way that fax machines denigrate repeated copies - as do photocopy machines - is there a way in which an object could be repeatedly inserted in the tantamounter, in such a way that its flaws would grow?

I would be fascinated to have some insight into the experience of those 'within' the box - the creative method that gets them from vision to output.

James, Todd wants to put the BABY into the duplicator! But he has always insisted he only wants one child. What should I do?

I can certainly understand the temptation of having a Gelitin portrait of the baby, but I would be a bit nervous about putting her into the tantamounter.

This was one of the most delightful things I have ever done and it put a big smile on my face! Thank you, Gelitin! I love my cloned gnome and named him Art.