Poking holes

by CarlD

One of my favorite Far Side cartoons (don’t own it, can’t find it online) has two huge space aliens peering at a chubby little boy they’ve captured and put in a jar. The caption is something like “This time make sure to poke holes in the lid, Gorok!”

I was reminded of this because Rachel has posted an agenda of future art projects. Several of them involve the kind of decentering perspective shift that was also Gary Larson’s special genius. This one, for example:

Have a Hart. Premise: build a Hav-a-Hart trap for people. I’m interested in the way we think we know what’s best for people and the idea of constraining through kindness (elitism). Dehumanizing humanitarianism. Control. It might be funny to do it as a military operation –- a tongue-in-cheek winning strategy for Afghanistan (putting traps around the mountains).

What would we use to bait these Taliban traps?

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13 Comments to “Poking holes”

  1. My ex-wife once used a “humanitarian” trap for mice/rats that used adhesive to trap the rodent. My skepticism about this approach was validated when, after smelling something bad, she discovered that the trap had caught something. It was absolutely gruesome. In trying to get free, the mouse had gotten its face stuck, and had then proceeded to pull off parts of itself in the struggle. The lesson, I guess, is to beware of kindness.

    I loved all of Rachel’s ideas. What I liked most was her interest in making people uncomfortable and anxious as a way to explore things that we don’t bother to (or would prefer not to) think about. Some of my favorite writers do just that in their fiction.

  2. I used one of those glue things once when my office food drawer attracted a mouse, as it periodically does in our old building. I found the mouse the next day after it had stuck its face down but before it managed to pull much of itself off. Rachel happened to be around. She took the little rascal away and very carefully unpealed it, then released it in the dumpster behind the grocery store, which I thought was hilarious. Since then on two other occasions I’ve used the little plastic version of the hav-a-hart and released the mice in scrubby parts of campus, where they were no doubt unfamiliar with the layout of cover and made easy pickins for the local redtail hawk.

    Rachel has been actively exploring the version of the project where she hangs an art gallery with people-sized glue strips. She just discovered that you can buy fly-strip glue online by the gallon. We can’t figure out how every high-school prankster in the universe has not discovered this.

  3. Ammendment to Carl’s mouse story: I freed the little guy from the trap using vegetable oil, which I bought at the grocery store (which I later freed him behind). Oil (veg, olive, mineral) is the magic release with those traps. If you catch critter pre-self mutilation it’s no sweat to let him go.
    Here’s my current thinking for those Taliban traps: I have to bait them with guns or something else that an “innocent” person wouldn’t be tempted by. Pseudo-logic says that only bad guys want guns and such, right? So we’d be sure to only catch bad guys if we bait the traps with things only bad guys want. Fool proof!

  4. Also, an aside note: the folks who sell fly strips are all pleased with themselves for putting fly pheromones in the glue for the sticky traps. I can buy the glue sans bug love juice so I’m thinking it might be funny to put human pheromones in it–the quandry is that one can buy up to 4 different kinds of human pheromones depending on what gender is trying to attract what other gender (so man -> woman, woman -> man, man -> man, or woman -> woman). The possibilities have made me go crosseyed trying to invent a logic for any combination of pheromone types. I’m starting to lean toward psuedo-mones and just saying they’re in there.

  5. You guys may find the work of Bay Area artist Lucas Murgida interesting: http://lucasmurgida.com

  6. Great link! His (w)hole project taps into an idea of herding that I’m really interested in. I love his friendly approach to performance art and that for each uncomfortable position he asks others to enter he puts himself into an even more uncomfortable one. He’s doing interesting things with authority–what a nice break from the classically sadistic tone that performative work often takes.

  7. I love how he turned unpleasant tasks into Olympics, and then art. Many thanks, Shahar.

    Re: bait for these traps that will lure Taliban but no one else, how about works of postmodernist feminism?

  8. You could put holy books in there, with something hanging over them that will eventually fall or snap and cause them to be defaced. Like a heretical IED.

  9. Cool. I thought you guys would like Lucas’ work; it’s got that friendly, but very sharp type of humor that runs through Rachel’s work (and Carl’s writing).

    As for bait, I’m tempted to say (1) Jewish Pornography (2)Sarah Silverman reading pomo feminism or (3) free beard combs being handed out by a guy dressed like bin Laden but who’s actually IDF or better, CIA.

  10. Speaking of the IDF, here’s some good satire from a popular Israeli sketch comedy show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kqZ-GtNaM8

  11. Friendly? Wtf? I must be losing my edge.

  12. Love the bait suggestions. Silverman might be problematic as bait because her calculated effect is a painful metacognitive ambivalence based on alternately attracting and repelling. I’m assuming the faux-Ladens would have to have some visible telltale of their ‘true’ identity?

  13. I would imagine the CIA personnel dressed as bin Laden would be wearing black shoes with white socks, a telltale sign. I think I got that from the French Connection, or was it Serpico?

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