Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Death with Dignity, NZ's plan to party while the world ends. Chapter 2 of 3.

Ok so this is the boring but necessary chapter where I point out the self evident unpalatable but critically important truth and outline some basic broad brush options.
Also bear in mind this writing is a constructive attempt at a coping mechanism for me as a powerless individual rather than a delusive ego based Kanye West type bipolar episode.

I am in broad sociological strokes refashioning the basic needs of a society as an exercise and because societies celebration of itself, which will be the last element I include, has been my lifes study.

Our species is self annihilating and taking a majority of evolved lifeforms on the planet down with it.
Sorry the time for argument has passed. The only luxuries that remain are the weakest form of non critical denialism and an affront to the dignity of man quite frankly.
The time for useful idiots has past and saying that we’ll exclude Humpty Trumpty and Pee Wee Goebbels and the Blonde British windsock and put the rise of conservative  painfully self evident corporate facist vassels  aside for a moment.[So disappointed in you Australia]
So lets put a few unpalatable truths front and centre because without that collectively we cannot untether ourselves from the barrage of distractive blither that inflates the post rational envelope the world is currently engaged in with media pimping for short cash the saddest and most cynical global pantomime ever produced.

The world as we know it is convulsing and expiring.

American crops this year were delayed via flooding then cut short by further climatic instability.
Australias food production is also down this year.
The scientific consensus is that once reliable rhythms of climate are becoming increasingly unstable.
Food production is becoming unstable globally. Terms and concepts like 'Multiple breadbasket failure' are being discussed seriously.
Nobody knows the pace of this change, this increase in instability, but the consensus is it’s accelerating.

And again I’m not interested in argument. There are only two possibilities.
One is that our inertia  as a species leaves us reacting to a systematic collapse of global and probably terminal proportions.
All hope is lost and morphine, magic mushrooms and weapons grade Kush become our most sought after commodities. Whatever adhesive traditionally binds nation states devolves and our civilisation dissolves into a terminal puddle of mayhem.
If we don't act before some social tipping point is reached, wherein the future shortens to a week or fortnight at a time then we will have given up all agency to think beyond immediate survival and at that point with cohesion lost so is any viable future.

The second possibility is we recognise this impending radical change in our environment and do something about it while we still have the structures of our critically ill and expiring system in place in order to effect some deft triage.

This gives rise to a further set of potential outcomes.

  • It's too late but we try anyway and achieve a collective death with a comparative collective dignity achieving the equivalence of a decent party at the end of the universe before our demise.
  • It's not too late and we salvage some collective political bedrock with which to fashion a workable sustainable social model.

I’ve looked at our predicament and imagined a future in which smaller countries, Potentially nimble political entities, more tugboat than oil tanker, might set an example for others to find hope in an otherwise increasingly hopeless situation and world. Bhutan, Iceland and New Zealand are countries that have at least broached the possibility, that a 'wellbeing' quotient for the population should surpass the GDP as a metric.

Because it certainly appears that there are hugely disruptive times on the horizon and preemptive defensive reconfiguration of every facet of society, the ability to adapt swiftly and with collective vigor in the face of cascading multifaceted challenges including food production and distribution, climate based infrastructural disruptions, potential global refugee migrations, in my mind inevitable large scale economic instability with attendant mass mega-innue.

Further reading


“Imagination is an essential quality of a flexible, adaptable mind.”

I'm using New Zealand as my test tube for this thought experiment. We are small and adaptive and isolated from the usual mass migration scenarios.
[although I see a lot of upper middle class blue water catamarans with families attached heading semi-permanently our way in the not too distant future and more seriously some pacific intake from drowning communities]



We need to secure food production independent of climatic vagaries.

The production and distribution of food is any societies primary function.
Intensive indoor farming needs to become the first priority of any society that wishes to future proof itself. It is a field in it's infancy and has huge economic and employment and commercially intellectual potential.

Further; NZ has two universities ranked in the top 100 for agriculture and forestry in the QS World University Rankings.
Lincoln specializes in improving New Zealand's land-based knowledge, wealth and productivity, and is ranked among the global top 50 for agriculture & forestry and Massey is also a world renowned agricultural university. Agriculture and innovation in agriculture has a strong foundation already throughout many NZ educational institutions

The more we can grow food indoors and at increasingly optimal productivity the more stable we will be in an otherwise increasingly unstable world.

Not my area of expertise but to my mind a fairly self evident market given the disruptive conditions at hand. Commercial viability would seem to be straightforward. It would also appear to be self evident that if we do not construct systems which feed communities via close proximity then the idea of communities themselves will perish.

Our current state of indoor growlighting efficiency seems to be this mass produced programable panel that covers a 5 ft squared growing area.
Cheaper perhaps to compile inhouse from imported components.
Not my balliwick.

Some of the largest indoor growing facilities are associated with the accelerating legal cannabis market and serve as an example of how quickly growing infrastructure can be constructed given the right incentives.

Obviously nothing beats cannabis as a cash crop given cash being available however cash itself is less important overall than the biological insurance indoor cropping could lend any population prepared to invest in it and I bring this up too just to point out that it's not like anyones being asked to reinvent the wheel in terms of available applied technology.

Creating a meaningful new industry would also dovetail into areas of a social 'wellbeing' quotient, employment, empowerment on several scales.



At present average housing cost in NZ has crossed the $700 000 rubicon.

Under the present status quo I can't begin to fathom the mental capsule needed to presume 20 years of stability required for a classic mortgage.

We [and the world] need a flexible, scalable foundation of a building/habitat manufacturing base to provide housing that reflects the robustness and energy efficiency necessary to withstand climatic extremes and resource sharing as well as surges in demand from our present population and influxes in our population caused by inevitable global migration.
Not qualified at all in this regard but in any society shelter is mandatory and primary and both shelter and food being foundational I'm focusing on it on principle.

I'd presume a focus on cheap viable building materials research. Rendering, compiling, building techniques, an entire new approach to shelter in an adaptive state would be the challenge given the status quo is presently unsustainable and will only grow more so.

The Auckland Uni Architectural school is a brains trust that could be brought to bear.

Also personally I'd guess that financial services, which are a large part of real estates cost at present in the near future will either die gibbering of old age or be smothered in it's bed by it's children.

As you can tell this topic illustrates why I shouldn't talk on matters I'm ignorant about but housing and shelter is an important critical collective need that will need to be addressed.

However again, the development of alternative systems of housing and accommodation has within it a progressive quality wherein the 'hope' at it's foundation lends itself to a larger interwoven social/cultural dynamic that is essentially inoculative to paralyzing despair in the face of radical change.



As you can probably see I'm just working, in primitive sociological terms through your primitive hierarchy of needs for any functioning community/society/state

Maker Spaces.

Sometimes called FabLabs, TechShops or Hackerspaces are communal spaces with shared tools and shared skills where individuals and groups can improvisation-ally engineer solutions, inexpensive adaptations, improvements, group and individual projects, creating communities with mentors and teachers and skill-sharers empowering various grades of raw curiousity and providing opportunities for collective and individual problem solving and education.

Driven by specific, usually project driven educational factors, the ambition to compile a cheap and powerful personal computer, a need to set up an indoor garden, exploring 3D printing to obtain some open source do-dad or a reason to get out of the house and just explore for it's own sake.

The differences between these community based centers and other learning institutions such as Universities and poly techs would be shorter, more informal and less certification driven participation. Short cycle makes them more adaptive, more informal makes them more elastic and less formal certification makes them more about self actualisation than top down industry driven.
They also promote a robust, improvisational, socially cohesive problem solving component into a local culture.

They would have the potential of being practical incubators in a period when innovation on a local scale becomes increasingly relevant.
They would provide a social facility that was constructive by definition.
They would be open to all and that inclusiveness would be a social asset to combat a host of isolative mentally unhealthy issues that are growing concerns.

Empowerment and self realisation being key foundations of general wellbeing.

A network of these maker-spaces would require planning and not inconsiderable investment in funds and management however their efficiency in providing social stability, potential innovation, community resilience and adhesion ideally might have successes that alleviate stresses on other budgets contained within, unemployment, health and Justice systems.

And also, as with all the above stated, the inference is that investment in alternatives to our present systems that are showing the beginnings of terminal failure are far more achievable the earlier in the curve of increasing systematic pressure they are made.

Because hiding in a well off hole in the ground waiting for the new refeudalization is a foolish alternative.

It's said that societies exist via the cultivation of dependency and the monopolization of violence.
That's quite a terse description.I think there's terse times ahead.

Present Govt's cannot simply ship themselves off to holes in the ground via private metal eggs, all of their eggs are in one basket and so it is up to us to egg them on and suggest that they act like good eggs or as is traditional during social revolutions, we'll probably kill them all and either eat them or not.

When [or if] the state cannot provide security, in food, in shelter, in peace, then communities reform themselves based on quite unforgiving primitive models.

I see foundations being implemented now to combat the most challenging fallout of inevitable systemic disruption being the wisest investments to be made. By wealthy individuals who enjoy loyal servants, from Govts who want to continue being viable and to all of us others those who look with increasing despair and powerlessness into the future and lack structure.
Even if it's just for the sake of laughing at the gibbering hedge managers sentenced to each others company an indefinite period finally emerging waving their guns from some hole in Otago.

So we have bustling intensive farming setups working with the maker space wing while the modulated prefab structure industry tries to keep roofs over everything.

All under the auspices of a new civil defense future proofing dept.

Suicidal youth and the generally disaffected are offered invitations to save the world initially in discussion forums, real time meetups and makerspaces.

Metrics, goals, achievable outcomes defined and initiated.

Meanwhile, the only people left that retain the ability to encompass the potential doom of our species and still contemplate celebration need to be given shelter and support to create outbursts of whimsy that defy despair.

Because all work and no play makes humanity a dull boy.

Which brings me to act three, the upcoming third installment in this little thought exercise that I'll finish and post and then also additionally amalgamate into one long read because the separations are simply ways of me providing myself writing targets and conceptionally it probably doesn't suit being broken up although to motivate myself it had to be segmented or this waffle might never have come to pass.

Allow me to introduce myself, technically I'm a clown.
I inhabit the 'dark' real estate of clowns definition. I have specialized for over 30 years as an international clown soloist in making despair comic.
I did quite well, I worked for myself around the world as well as being a corporate mercenary clown in many countries for Coca Cola and Suntory and Mitsubishi and Chrysler and many others, in technical clown terms I am at a level where once invited, I passed a two day cirque du soleil audition in New York. Finishing as the only clown in the final eight selected out of an initial fifty eight prospects.
I've also done a variety of big budget private parties. A host of International Arts festivals and have networked extensively with others in my field from a multitude of countries.

All whilst being demonstratively unhappy.

I returned to NZ from my base of ten years in Hawaii just over a year ago weighing very little and without having eaten solids for 10 months due to cancer of the esophagus, I was not expected to live more than a couple of months by the US medical advice I'd been given.
But via the reduction of 2/3rds of my stomach and some of my esophagus and thirty six lymph nodes in an eight and a half hour operation by NZ health services followed by a year of self imposed solitude as I fed myself via machine then without I am now a 55 year old able bodied unemployed clown.

It's hard to be a cynically unhappy clown when the rest of the world shares that state as a growing hopeless baseline. Thanks for catching up people!

I have a small reputation for getting dark things done. One example is I danced in China to a mixed audience of retired military and their families, using context and non english comprehension to my advantage to a song by Nine inch nails called 'closer' . I succeeded in getting cheerful elderly Chinese to smile and clap along to a chorus of, 'I want to fuck you like an animal-I want to feel you from the inside out.'

It's petty but I'm proud.

A less petty but proud dark function of mine was for two years I was a 'death Sherpa' to a friend of mine who died of cancer. He was also what could be called a dark clown and very successful. He was a challenge both as a vocation and a friend but I could make him laugh. I got the last chuckle from him 48 hours before he died.

I've spent the last year having had my life unexpectedly saved, alone and looking for ways to meaningfully reinsert myself back into the world.

I may have gone mad, it wouldn't surprise me.

I would like to leverage NZ and also my network of international contacts with performers and festival managements to nurture a studied whimsical response to our potential demise as a species.

It's sufficiently dark enough to challenge and experience has taught me that one of only things that makes tragedy palatable is comedy of a sufficient quality.

So in my third installment I'll be outlining how NZ can further position itself as a defiant, quirky antithesis to general despair and powerlessness by promoting whimsy not as a distraction but as an inclusive reward for the multitude of sacrifices that will come with adapting and accepting an uncertain future.

A 'Tearoom at the end of our species.' type deal.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

NZ's future, (or how I got funding for my festival). chapter one.

Chapter one

Before I begin have a gander at these two variations of post apocalyptic research

It’s said parasitic sociopaths can’t be reasoned with. I beg to differ.
Lets say I’m some neo-liberal billionaire who has more liquidity than any group of people can spend in several lifetimes and I want for nothing and am surrounded by highly intelligent fawning lickspittles and my life’s just peachy and surreal. I’m part of a select digital aristocracy or perhaps I’ve inherited a flatulent amount of wealth and sometimes I just have to pinch myself.

My only problem is that I have it on good authority, the best minds money can buy have told me that there’s a probability approaching certainty that the entire system that’s gained me my wealth and additionally every social system at present intralinked to the present financial global status quo is destined via basic formal logic…to collapse catastrophically sometime within 3 to 15 years.

A great deal has been made about prefabricated boltholes in NZ and other places. Private jets and small select cabals and rushing off and locking the door behind them for a bit. You can almost picture the cocaine rimmed nostrils and the euphoria of a 5 star doomer fantasy realised with a flurry of purchases and agreements and the secured knowledge that were some short lived new plague to break out given a certain amount of absolutely flawless timing and a perfectly executed logistical plan you and some of your equally well heeled friends could live in a swanky hole in the ground for quite some time.
All this can be manifest by simply spending money and luckily as a billionaire you have that on hand. In fact it could be said that spending money is the second best thing you excel at. The first of course being acquiring it in the first place. 
I find it stupendously naive on a multitude of levels. Firstly the trigger impulse that initiates the bunker burrowing. Secondly the requirement of flawless logistics to initiate it and thirdly and most importantly given after exhaustive drills and rehearsals and false alarms and dry runs the plan is initiated and a group of people whose major lifeskills revolve around exploiting a system that has failed to the degree that jumping into a hole in the ground is their best considered option and with the door closed behind them and all further agency forsaken. [Surely someones mentioned that if you communicate with the outside world you are broadcasting your position to anyone with the right handheld device]

But what happens next? Is the ultimate plan to recolonize NZ with everyone else dead or the guns you keep in a room? Do you have any idea how idiotic and shallowly self revealing your post apocalyptic wet dream is? Obviously not.

I suspect these articles are simply penned by bad novelists desperate to drive viewers to their blogs and have little to do with reality and more to do with their withered imaginations.
I cannot digest that some of the most wealthy are this sub-intelligent.

That said it got me to thinking. If I were some financial titan and wished to ensure myself against some financial and ecological and social collapse how would I go about instigating protection for myself?

Well New Zealand is an ideal platform to base the experiment. It has under 5 million population, it's comfortably isolated, it has mountain ranges set so that whatever the prevailing winds they are water making machines.It has hydro and geothermal power sources and is aiming for 90% renewables by 2025. It has potential socially to be galvanised towards the changes required for the undoubtedly massive challenges ahead.

It also has the highest youth suicide rates in the world. A bi-product perhaps of a relatively well educated and critically thinking youth recognising that self actualization within a forlorn socio-economic vehicle heading towards a seemingly predestined cliff makes life less than rosy and optimism a tad redundant.

Also and I just mention this in passing because it amuses me. New Zealanders have evolved a relationship with violence, the kind of tribal violence that usually eventually destroys cultures and civilisations we've turned into a celebration of all we hold sacred and it's our national sport and we hold what appears to be an unassailable position of the worlds champion having won over 3/4s of games played internationally since 1903. We have a well deserved reputation as cheerful kind folk but don't go thinking we're easily usurped via flattery or trinkets. If rugby were international politics we would be the worlds superpower and given various factors this is in fact a potential possibility.

Now I'm worth a couple of billion and on paper can probably double that if I short the industries I know will crash first or any other of a number of silly maneuvers but my prime objective, other than spending millions on a plan to hide in a hole in the ground would be to gather a sociologist or two and a handful of creative thinkers along with some govt connections and some logistical gurus for the management side of things and put it to them. How can I use my wealth to preserve and enhance as much of the existing NZ culture so that I can live safely and fruitfully within it?

The sociologists will flatter you with your perception of the age old importance of the dunbar number and the acceptance of the futility of manifest destiny as applied to individuals such as yourself. They would fluff you like you had a day long porn shoot ahead of you. But they would also say some wise things that educated you into your potential place in a new situation you would be instrumental in helping create. [and you'd still be rich, richer than most, the most important thing ultimately being most people wouldn't hate you and want you dead and you wouldn't have to live in a hole in the ground, a victim of your own reptilian impulses]

The creative thinkers, [and I'll switch and be one of them now] would suggest four main projects, each aimed at a differing but integrated part of any culture/society.

The investment in low cost, high energy efficient housing.

The investment in solar [or other renewable] powered intensive indoor agriculture

The investment in a network of 'makerspaces' of differing sizes throughout the country.

The investment into a festival that celebrates 'Quirk' which is an intrinsic part of NZ's cultural character.

Now I'll switch back to my solitary billionaire guise and admit I'm a little overwhelmed by the cost of all this and my neoliberal cortex is perhaps inflamed at the injustice of it all.
“Well we all have problems mate. We're just trying to solve our own and yours to the best of our ability.”

On a macro-level NZ could leverage it's obvious assets both natural and as a relatively small and potentially nimble country to put things in place now that grew an infrastructural independence and proactively positive example to others. The cost being met in part using that leverage to offer otherwise doomed billionares and multimillionares a seat at our table.

I’ve researched housing and intensive indoor farming and maker-spaces and my own ‘quirk’ project and will elaborate at length on each of them but I’m just looking for a bite sized introduction to begin with so have left that elaboration out to include in in the next installment.

If you find this thought experiment interesting then please by all means share it round and if not then perhaps recommend a wellington based mental health expert.

part two...

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Fraser Hooper, Silver medal winning Clown.

Stephen Colbert, during a week long promotion of New Zealand recently posed the question. ‘How much of your national economy is based on whimsy?”

Interesting question. Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, are our present whimsical big daddies but it must be noted that they, although huge amplifiers of our quirky, understated, laconic and intelligently self aware humour are just that, amplifiers.The signal itself is and has always been an intrinsic part of New Zealands self expression. 

We are cackling church mice giggling in the nook of someone elses cathedral and we like it that way.

There are others, less well known but making an impression internationally nevertheless.

Sam Wills, ‘The Boy With Tape On His Face’ has performed at the Royal Gala in London and has had a multi year residency show in Vegas. 

Guy Williams has an international online following with his 'New Zealand Today’ comic reporting of small-town NZ eccentricities.

This month also a New Zealand Clown won the Silver prize at the Saint-Paul-lès-Dax International Circus Performers festival in France.

It’s like the Emmys of circus awards, the oscars being either the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo or the International Circus Festival of Budapest.

However in the world of studied and applied whimsy there are not too many opportunities where Clown is briefly taken seriously and accolades awarded and for a New Zealander to excel is cause for celebration.
What I like to call ‘High end Clown’ is a rarified yet pan culturally accessible medium that discards buffoonery and superficial wit and instead focuses on the creation of shared moments in which usually a solo artist creates a temporary world that entrances, beguiles and stimulates a profoundly palliative quality in which our ability to laugh at ourselves supersedes  all else.

That’s quite a trick, to do it without language, solo and by means of a subterranean authority built on a low status clown foundation even more so. 

Fraser Hooper lives in Wellington.
His Clown is a kind of downtrodden optimist who needs his audiences help to create a world in which he can find peace.
He ends up creating more than that instead producing a riotous celebration of collaboration within a temporary surreal whimsical bubble that is his show.

He’s measured and subtle and constructively sly and his recognition internationally is no surprise to me and I hope he inspires more New Zealanders in the celebration of our own form of whimsy and for some perhaps, in our increasing dour world, a true rebellious vocation in the creation of more of it.

First part of his country life show

Condensed full show

Monday, October 21, 2019

Whimsey modules a group request...

Theatre consists of three primary elements

Form being the appearance/ look/ style

Content being that which takes place that can be described

Performance being an amalgam of form and content in space and time. The quality of rendering if you will.

For the moment we’ll dispense with the gargantuan hypothesis that everything from Banking to Politics to the expression of individual and collective consciousness itself is theatre and focus on a certain type of content or rather a certain framework in which an element of content in performance can be filed, retrieved, unwrapped, modified [via form and additional content] and utilised.

A ‘bit’ in clown and comedy terms is a set-up then release, the smallest element in the construction of fully formed comedy. ‘Bits’ are stand alone comic elements that can be strung together to form shows and bits can be layered to form ‘acts’. Bits can also be broken down into constituent actions and reactions but a bit is the smallest comically whole unit.

This isn’t about that.

This is about a framework one macro level above a bit and could be the framework in which a whole performance piece or part of a whole performance piece resides.

I’m going to attempt to explain the concept of ‘whimsy modules’ and the provide a small list of practitioners and also some open source modules as examples and training/creative impulse tools.

Whimsey modules are performances based usually on an eccentric or surreal or whimsical premise.

My stilt/clown character ‘Lurk’ for example is built of the premise that the character is reluctantly trapped in the clown form and my entire performance revolves around that frustration and dissatisfaction.

I’m a high status individual trapped in a low status form. 

That’s a pretty sophisticated and pretentious premise. It suits me as an individual and is the primary reason my clown is accepted as authentic by audiences.

But the premises used to construct whimsy modules can range from complexity down to far more simple foundations and I could argue that the foundations of whimsey modules are all simple in origin and it’s only the addition of various form and performance that adds to their potential complexity.

My character for example is simply unhappy. But has to reluctantly perform. That’s the premise stripped bare.

Which I think is interesting for students and performers wishing to develop new pieces because whereas ‘clown’ is heavily married to form the concept of whimsy modules allows exploration of form within self sustaining comic installations.

Some examples of practitioners of this type of installative comic performance and some history.

My clown teacher Alan Clay brought up a potential exercise wherein small theatric productions could conceivably be produced in the time and space allowed by automated pedestrian crossings.

This was what I would now call a whimsy module.

Rob Maclaren and I played on stilts with several variations using large 4 way pedestrian crossings in NZ’s largest city Auckland. We presumed we had invented pedestrian cross theatre, and perhaps we did.

Rob then went to Tokyo and was detained in Shibuya by police on stilts in the middle of one of the worlds largest pedestrian crossings. They took him aside and asked him what he thought he was doing and he answered. 
“I’m from New Zealand, this is pedestrian cross theatre , we do it at home.”
They said, 
“Well you can’t do it here.”   And let him go. 

Years later I met John Ullyatt who, among many things is an accomplished installative conceptional comic and who at the street theatre fest that year had spent 10 days as a roving Dung Beetle. 

What I like about whimsy modules in general is they are modular. You can outline them to another artist and they can come up with their own creative flavours. I loved what John Ullyatt was doing and told him about the pedestrian cross theatre. The next year he had adapted his own applications of it in 2 or 3 experimental forms the best by far being the fantastic 5 person piece, “Moses the crossing guard"

Around 12 years ago I performed for the opening of an eccentric bar in NZ called 'The Wunderbar'.
I spent a week gluing various lengths of cassette tape to a pair of overalls for my costume and had a friend who ran a hang-gliding business rig me in a harness and suspend me from the top of the building with all the safety requirements met. I spent the evening floating around , pushing off the building and workshopping the movement qualities of my situation.

The next year I was in Edmonton again and John Ullyatt picked my brain for more interesting things.
 When I told him about my suspension work he got excited. The next year he and his partner Annie Dugan spent part of the festival dressed as fashion critics, hanging from a building with pen and paper and writing down compliments and fashion advice for specific passers by before scrunching the paper into balls and throwing it down to those concerned.

So now I’m going to list a series of ‘whimsy modules’ that can be used as creative impulses or even simply as is.

I’m aware that this just a beginning and will be trying to structure something online that others in my performance fraternity might look to add to.
Additionally I’m aware that as creative impulses fully formed in of themselves they might also have a kind of anthropological power in terms of universals.
In the same way that ’the trickster’ is a universal and creates itself under different guises in different cultures, Coyote/Raven/ Reynard the Fox/Br’er Rabbit/Peter Rabbit/Bugs Bunny, pan cultural Clown concepts basically so perhaps a collection of whimsy modules could collectively underline that which makes us all delight even as our collective extinction looms.


I’ll start by listing what I consider to be generic whimsy modules, then move onto some I’ve produced and I’d like as much further input in increasing this generic list as I can get.
I define generic as pieces I’ve seen over the years put on by different people over at least three renditions. That to me signals they are as far out in the public domain as they need to be without stepping on anyones artistic toes and also considering I’ve a 30+ year time spent out in the field the originators of these modules are not likely to be too attached to them I’m guessing.


Initially called ‘crate slugs’ dating back to their alcoholic beginnings in Amsterdam in the 70s the interactive flavour of statue work has created some quite captivating shows with meaningful and authentic performance chops when done well. Silver Elvis and Invisible John from Invisible Circus as well as Kate Mior have each used the form as a base from which to create their own distinct styles.

A module in which one or two roving V.I.P’s are escorted in public by a number of performance bodyguards/security personnel, who interact with the public in character while shadowing and protecting their clients.


An object, a roving rubbish tin, a lamppost, a bus-stop display, is monitored and ‘voiced’ by someone skilled at improvisation and interacts with passers by. 

Various practitioners create performances out of the production of large or large scale bubbles. It has an intrinsic whimsical property. It requires a mixture of performance skills and applied science as air pressure, altitude and other factors go into the production of the mixtures used for each site specific performance. 

The man who opens his coat to reveal an entire theatre stage,
I need help as I had his name once but have lost it, he's european.

Anthony Livingspace,
Cannot be copied, embodies clown and generosity and a completely true to himself rendition of what entertainment unconstrained contains.

Street poets.
30 years ago there was a guy in Bourke street mall who sat on a stool and you gave him some money and your name and he would write a poem about you. when he had finished he had a stepladder he would climb to read the new poem. he gave you a copy and kept a carbon copy for himself.
There are now many variations of this form. just google street poet.
There's a lovely woman who bravely does erotic public poems on the street, I think she calls it street smut, help me out with a name please.

I’ll leave it to others to add to this initial list of generic examples. I’m not trying to create a compendium of other peoples acts, it makes people bristle I’ve found.

I’d like to add that I’ve always found and have experimented pan culturally to confirm my suspicions, that whimsy is a key.
What it unlocks, in my 55 years I have yet to fully solve but I suspect it’s ethereal and I presume profound. I also suspect cognitive leaps outwardly absurd that contain immediately resonant lighthearted emotional states  will be one of the last human elements an AI can master,  so if it can be quantified with any clarity then it could be a canny career choice for any budding romantic masochists.


I’ll  list some various modules I’ve come up with over the years, most of which have been produced but others are just laying round latent and I’d encourage anyone to have at them. 


  • The reluctant clown on stilts module is my largest body of work. I eat time in public using an aggressive attitude. Good luck reproducing my style but the module itself is wide open for exploration.

  • Pedestrian cross theatre.
Exploits the short time period available that produces a public space in the middle of an intersection for a specific regular period.

  • Suspended instigative characters.
Requires a certified rigger who suspends you from a building above paying pedestrian traffic. Examples have been fashion critic as well as various visual standalone pieces.

  • Wall People
Characters [Two] who exist via the premise that they have to have a wall at their back, started out as a clown exercise and evolved into various set pieces.

An absurd street theatre premise when in two businessmen compete in catching flys in public using a dead fish and a fly swat .

  • Apartment intercom theatre 
An arrangement wherein a spotter leans out a window of an apartment building and yells a description of an approaching pedestrian to a second person manning the security intercom, along with a countdown such that a passing pedestrian is accosted while passing an empty doorway. Ie, "hey you with the red hair, I love/hate your shoes”

A fully scripted non verbal 30 min interplay between a waiter and a food critic performed in over 20 restaurants.


Some of these are initially fully realised conceptionally with beginnings middles and ends, well one at least, [designer droppings]
Others are more just open ended whimsical shells.

  • Public musical doppler- doppelgänger  
An installation in which multiple guitarists, synchronised via a shared phone based metronome and staggered at set distances within a public place, play the same music.  The purpose is to create an ‘uncanny valley’ atmosphere as pedestrians travel from one sound zone into the next.

CAST--6 performers plus 2 technical support crew.
Designer Droppings is a large scale installation set publicly involving preemptive cordoning by 4/6 comic quantifying technicians in response to a huge blob of foam forming at the top of a building.
The quantifying technicians, after securing the area, use clipboards, measuring tape, lightmeters, video, Polaroid, thermometer,hand held crowd counter etc to measure and record as much of the process as possible.
The blob is designed to grow to a specific volume before tipping under its own weight and falling to the street below.
(There is always the danger, if not the distinct possibility, that one or more technicians might be under the foam when it falls.)
The technicians, after inspection, transfer all remaining traces of foam using wheelbarrows, shovels,a spoons, various other implements etc. into one standard size sack.
The area is finally designated clear and the technicians, without explanation, pack up and leave. (alternatively there could follow an exhaustive series of curtain calls.)
TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS-- Between 1-3 foam making machines need to be provided, also roadworking safety accessories, (hard-hats, traffic cones, etc)
Technically, and quite self evidently this performance can only take place in windless conditions.
Variations can be made in size, colour and consistency of foam.
SUGGESTED APPLICATIONS--Festivals, alongside Corporate buildings, other.
Two performers, each with dartboards attached to their heads take turns playing darts against each other literally. [The dartboards can be swivelled away from the face for the active gamer and across the face for the dartboard being played]

  • Coin operated Iron Lung

The concept

I am going to invent a character, at this stage I'm only certain about his last name 'Mielniczek' [from Peter ex Hoopals last name]
He is a refugee from eastern europe and the last individual still contained within an iron lung. [from this point on I'll refer to that object as 'IL' because i want to avoid google searches concerning it]
He is a writer with a fatalistic view of the world and is engaged in a world wide book reading tour from within his IL.
he reads in public, his IL is coin powered and he has instructed his medical staff not to interfere with the process in which his IL is powered by coins dropped into the generator that powers his IL.
He is miked up and amplified, there is a gauge on the side of his IL that registers the status of the power supply. It goes from green to brown to red. [There is a smaller version of the same gauge visible to him]
as the gauge dips into the brown and then red his breath becomes laboured and his voice strains to keep reading.
I would like this piece to be performed at a ten day festival, I would have ringers in place to make sure i did not die in the first three days, long enough to get publicity, after three days I'd like to experiment with survival.
Income would come from the coins and also I would have my book available to sell nearby.

Lots of mentions, 

CONCLUSION….as this letter is an attempt at getting some dribs and dabs or an untetherered fire hose as a group exercise.
What other whimsey modules have you thought up or come across in your travels that you believe warrants some place in the pantheon/potential wiki of conceptual public/private installation whimsey?




I first met my friend the Dung-beetle in Edmonton Canada, 
at the annual Edmonton International Street Performance Festival.
I could go on at length about Shelley, it's director and the ear to the ground
casting that see's ten days of set piece and roving and amalgams of each, 
pepper a huge downtown outdoor plaza artfully
and I could also go on about it's creator Dick Finkle and the culture he created
wherein lonely performance eccentrics were showered with 
respect and coddled 
in a language they understood 
and luxury they were not used to, 
[although everyone pretended it was normal] 
wherein they were flown, 
put up at the Sheraton and scheduled in front 
of active curious Canadians, 
to ply their studied performance affectations for donations.
Because I'm all about the Dung-beetle, those other things can wait.
Sometimes, very rare, you find someone who's applied whimsy 
is a form of magic.
The dung-beetle was a character who existed for 10 days, 
he dressed as a bug. 
He had antenna and looked like a featherweight bumblebee. 
For ten days he pushed his ball, a 5 foot ball covered in 
layers of post-it notes. 
The notes read, 'rent due' 'my husband doesn't love me, 
'My milk went off' 
"I'm socially awkward'.
He would have post-it note pads, stuck to the front of his costume 
and for ten days introduce himself.
"Hi, I'm a dung beetle, I collect [sotto] shit."
"Here's a pen, heres a post-it, write down the shit in your life 
and I'll add it to my ball."
So it went for ten days, the ball got bigger and bigger, cumulative 'shit'
That was the Dung-beetles role..
It was an all weather role, if it rained and most of the other performers 
deferred the Dung-beetle would be one of the few 
pushing his ball and stopping people wearing raincoats 
to explain himself.
It rained a little more, mud pools formed, the Dung- beetle 
was in his element.
"I'm a dung-beetle!", he would exclaim before belly- flopping muddily. 
through puddles triumphantly.
He had found a unique place in the performance eco- system.
resilient, reflective, whimsical and deep, 
he existed to collect shit and celebrate that.
Truly a mastermind.
We talked, the next year he took my idea of pedestrian crossing theatre 
as we had first practiced it in NZ and had created, 
'Moses, the crossing guard'.
But that's another story.