Neil Salley

Musée Patamécanique

The Musée Patamécanique—aka The Museum of Patamechanics—is a hybrid institution designed to provide a forum for exploring the meaning and possibilities of patamechanics. The museum opened its doors to the general public for tours on the anniversary of St. Sphincter, the 25th day of HAhA, 134 E.P. and has delighted countless visitors ever since.

Secretly located in Bristol, Rhode Island, Musée Patamécanique is part of the culture of the Wunderkammer, or the Cabinets of Curiosities, and is rumored to open its doors to friends, colleagues and the occasional curiosity seeker from early spring to late fall. The museum does not offer much in the way of highbrow objects d’art—nor are the exhibits that fill its halls presented with the intention to explain or to simplify anything. A tour of the Musée has been said to resemble a “two bit phantasmagoria show,” an “exhibition of bachelor machines” and an “intellectual hall of mirrors.” Still others say that Musée Patamécanique does not exist!

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Elizabeth Skadden

Robert Mueller Airport was a parcel of land that was up for sale to developers.

As the Cattelus Company began bulldozing and constructing real streets, our own runway paths disappeared. Experimental filmmaker and urban geographer Bill Brown has recorded the effect of such vanishings on his website,, a catalogue of eccentricities in the American landscape. “It’s strange to see the infrastructure disappear: A demolished gas station. A vanished ATM. Unpaved parking lots and ripped-up railroad tracks. Like somebody threw a switch, and now the city is running in reverse, shedding the stuff it’s made out of. Coming undone.”

As Cattelus construction persisted, the fence was taken down and a children’s hospital rose in the distance. Today, Robert Mueller Airport is a “community” called Mueller Development. “The sustainable, transit oriented design of this new community includes a broad range of homes plus places to shop, dine, jog, bike and play,” says their website.

There are only two reminders of the original landscape: the wooden hangar, which has been partially deconstructed and whitewashed to be a part of the children’s park, and the air traffic control tower. These are my lighthouses in a sea of unfamiliar landscape. Looking at them reminds me of specific instances, such as the time we biked to the airport and shot Super 8 of us riding over the airport runways. I can find the exact spot where this once happened but the view of Best Buy is alien. This landscape is irrevocably changed; it is no longer mine.

What happens to our memories when our topographic map changes? What happens to an emotional map based on space when that space is gone?


Paulina Sierra

I was in a bilingual school since I was seven. I remember reciting the vocabulary aloud: “cat- gato-cat-cat-cat” in a classroom full of kids that kept, like me, looking at a flashcard.

The first thing I found intriguing was how one word symbolized a drawing and next how that drawing represented the same thing in two different places that did not share the same language.

For years, my upbringing was based on European and North American culture. We purged snails in my kitchen to cook them with herbs, I was probably the only Mexican listening to Nikki Costa, and for years I begged my mother to tint my hair “yellow” because I wanted to be like Olivia Newton-John.

When I look back at my first interactions with the English language, I regard them as funny and tender. Once I asked a waiter in a restaurant where the machineguns1 were. He stared at me with blank eyes for a few minutes, and managed to point me towards the small arcade room by the end of the hall.

Still, the most vivid memories were the ones that came from being lost in translation in my own country. When I think of Mexico, there is a sense of depth and intoxication, of warm blood and bursting fruit. Just as I have recollections of misunderstandings from the U.S. and Europe, I can recall specific moments in which not language but cultural barriers have kept me outside my country. In these moments I was left wondering about my own identity; indigenous was the alter otherness that I had mistakingly conceived as sameness.

A negative aspect of assimilation is that it can keep things from being noticed because they have been given as a fact. Reappropriation comes in place as the antithesis of Appropriation to unearth these details. It is set in motion by questioning “stable” structures of predetermined mechanisms and thoughts.

1Maquinitas is the slang word for arcade game in Spanish. While it does not mean “machinegun,” I had created a hybrid of arcade games that were machines with guns.
Eye I & Eye Us

Naomi Fry

There was a great deal of freedom in how one was able to approach the thesis writing. Theoretical, fictional, poetic, part of the visual project itself or a separate elucidation of it—lots of things went, as long as one was serious and took the written project as a real challenge.

Michael Tauschinger-Dempsey

How is it possible that the military-industrial-entertainment complex is allowed to be submerged in such secrecy, and that citizens can no longer reasonably trust the judgment of the (only sometimes elected) people in charge?

Why must we engage in covertly proactive research and information gathering to obtain vital information about fully autonomous new weapons systems, for instance, in which even the decision about whom to kill is left up to the machine? Up until now, ethical concerns have prevented our leaders from allowing the machines to make the final decision about whom and when to kill. But the seeds of change have already begun to bloom, making this critical shift more a matter of time than of ethics.

Out of Service

Samuel Galison

To me, truth is more state than object; more like a verb than a noun. It’s a thing subtle but painfully obvious, like a rock in the sand, exposed just enough to stub your toe on. It’s that little extra breath that lives on the top of a yawn, or the crack of that one stuck vertebra at the base of your spine. It’s a fleeting, euphoric alignment of things that a moment ago had nothing to do with each other. Truth hides behind different names – inspiration, discovery, proof, revelation, awareness, but always it has the same ephemeral weight, the lighthearted sincerity of fresh snow. My friend Richard says you can’t search for inspiration, you can only practice, keep the creative muscles limber, and be ready for it when it arrives.


José Fernández Liermann

No longer centered on a conscious struggle with religious identity, cultural replacement and redefinition are happening every second on the Internet, where spontaneous and compulsive information circulation demonstrates our arguably natural impulse for cultural repackaging.

Cult of Cute

Elizabeth Skadden

Mercantile Sculptural Installation

Mercantile Building is a 100-year-old building in Providence modified over time by users of the space who decorated it to their own tastes. The space has changed to reflect how humans affect the spaces that they exist in. All the original denizens of the building are gone and a local arts organization has bought the space for restoration. As the building is cleared, so goes the hand of the people who used this space. Having acted as an urgent archaeologist, I took the walls from this place and reconstructed them into a new space. The final installation preserved the building and consisted of a maze-like room that gave viewers the feeling of being in this liminal space, decorated with items and the walls from the space itself. Light boxes lit the space and a 4’x5’ light box depicted the items in the space that they once inhabited.

Elizabeth Skadden: Mercantile Sculptural Installation Elizabeth Skadden: Mercantile Sculptural Installation Elizabeth Skadden: Mercantile Sculptural Installation

Collapsing New Buildings

Dan Chen

As a producer (part improvisational engineer, part philosopher-designer), I develop a series of functional robots capable of reenacting basic common human social behaviors.

I do this to place in full view questions about how social intimacy is delivered. By making the fictional real, bringing our fantasies into play, I confront the ontological conundrum of the validity of a programmed intimacy. As sculptural studies and experience designs, these devices reveal how RITs might work for us; as transitional objects providing an emotional placebo effect, instead of emotional life support.

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Lili Maya

I began mixing traditional/physical art forms with digital media because I needed the contact with the physical act of drawing and making. It is how I think and orient myself. What I once thought was a desire to mix these worlds was really a necessity if I was to continue working with digital media.

Over time, I stopped making a distinction and I think of my work as art that incorporates different materials and processes. Expanding on that notion, my practice is now an interdisciplinary collaboration involving sound, performance, site-specific installation and music.