Mark Pauline: terrorism as art
October 9, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Terrorism as art: Mark Pauline's dangerous machines. Robots, rebellion, and the post-apocalyptic performance art of Survival Research Labs.
posted by homunculus (28 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Good to know Pauline is still at it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:24 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Perils of Pauline!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:26 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Something tells me this guy is probably crazier than he appears in the video.
posted by darkfred at 4:27 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for sharing this!
posted by smartypantz at 4:29 PM on October 9, 2012

yay srl!
posted by Señor Pantalones at 4:37 PM on October 9, 2012

Wow, they're still at it. I saw Pauline and Co. just outside of Austin in 1997. They rented out a rural speedway and wrecked shit for about an hour. Audience was kept well clear and given ear protection with admission. A whistle made with a jet engine is not something you want to hear with the naked ear.
posted by Gilbert at 4:38 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I love this:
""What would you do, Mark Pauline, if time and money were no object?

Asked this question via email, Pauline first responded “the budget is the aesthetic.”
Pushed to describe the perfect world for Survival Research Labs, he wrote:

Ok, if I had an unlimited budget, here’s what I would do.
I’d hire an army of hackers to steal all the latest information about my favorite robots and any applicable technologies: The walking Honda robots, drone technology from military contractors, artificial intelligence, materials technologies, biological technologies, control technologies, etc.
I’d hire an army of lawyers to keep me out of jail, and to keep the doors open.
I’d have another group of hackers look for any types of information to blackmail anyone in authority who might get in my way.
Then I’d set up a large production location with a deep water port in a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S. or European countries and stock it with several years of machinery and supplies. I’d also create a network of third-party purchasers to keep things going in the event of any "bottlenecks.”

Then I’d hire an army of engineers to use the technologies I had stolen to build a vast army of interconnected robots. Flying robots, walking robots, etc., all with no practical commercial or military application.

The ultimate goal would be to build a network of robots that could stage "events" autonomously at any location, without warning, just for laughs.
posted by smartypantz at 4:39 PM on October 9, 2012 [17 favorites]

So he is a few billion dollars away from being a Batman villain?
posted by basicchannel at 5:00 PM on October 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

I saw SRL in San Francisco sometime in early 89 - I think there's a photo from it in the first link. It was under a freeway and, among other fun things, a huge stack of old pianos was set on fire sending flames up around the side of the freeway. It was all intense, very loud, exciting and transgressive, a genuinely unnerving space of anarchy, so I searched out interviews and articles to see what he was thinking. But I stopped because I found him to be a bit boring, unthoughtful and, honestly, kinda dumb. Watching the clips, I pretty much still do. I still love the performances and am glad he's doing them (though I don't think videos do a good job of getting across the atmosphere). I would love to see more some time as I never got to see another one in SF, but I doubt he'll be bringing his machines to North Carolina any time soon.
posted by williampratt at 6:11 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mark does not do interviews well and he's not a writer. I've worked with him for 22 years, and I have to say that sometimes I myself don't understand what he's getting at. His ideas are broad and often appear to be undefined. The shows are almost excuses to build the machines. I don't mind because he allows me free rein to interpret his shows as I see fit with my mechanical contributions.

Here is a link to a film he did called Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief. His idea was that it was made as though machines filmed it for the benefit of other machines. This is probably as close to Mark's vision as you'll be able to pin down.
posted by boilermonster at 6:31 PM on October 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

Priceless moment in that video...
Cop: We're investigating a fire here WTF are you doing? Do you have permission?
Guy: This is a performance art show we have permission... Real sorry it's just this prop just accidentally caught fire because the jet engine caught fire. [Cop's face goes from confident to WTF] We weren't using pyrotechnics nothing illegal here Officer.
posted by yoHighness at 6:33 PM on October 9, 2012

That dude shot me with a jet engine once...
posted by ph00dz at 6:54 PM on October 9, 2012

I like the fact that SRL exists. They pioneered a lot of my favorite kinds of art.

They also pioneered pissing off the authorities to the point where it is hard to show my favorite kinds of art.
posted by poe at 6:57 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw Pauline and Co. just outside of Austin in 1997.

Oh hey, Item and Gilbert - me too. Good times watching big-ass destruction machines, all blowing up and burning and arcing and ripping shit up.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:22 PM on October 9, 2012

I loved the SRL experience back in the 80s. Good to see Pauline is still at it. One of the performances I saw. It cost $4. Still have the poster packed away somewhere.
posted by Isadorady at 7:36 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think this guy's work is really cool. I also think that if he wasn't creating it he may be legitimately blowing the world up.

Support the arts, folks.
posted by sendai sleep master at 7:41 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mark does not do interviews well and he's not a writer.

But he can think up swell titles.
posted by ovvl at 7:56 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw an SRL show at a giant abandoned building in southern San Francisco back in the early 90's. I'm not sure what it all meant (if anything) but man, it was an experience. I don't think it'll be one of my last thoughts on earth (sorry Mark) but it was truly unique and I cherish the memory. If the machines took on a life of their own after we're gone, it might look a little like SRL.

It is awesome that he's still out there doing it.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 9:44 PM on October 9, 2012

basicchannel: So he is a few billion dollars away from being a Batman villain?
Aren't we all?

(Except Bruce Wayne, of course)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:07 AM on October 10, 2012

Yeah he's a good holdover from the days of the revolution, when anarchy was a more rosey alternative to assholes like ronnie (progress is our most important product) raygun and his dumbass thugs, and I wish him continued success in not burning people's faces off.

Um...he prolly won't be the last thing I think of when I die, though.
(Well, I hope not)
posted by mule98J at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2012

I saw SRL in Tokyo in 1999. It was...well, really, really unmemorable. I assume they had to strip down their show from what it is in the US, but that doesn't quite jibe with the anarchist vibe accredited to them.
posted by Bugbread at 5:22 PM on October 11, 2012

I literally had one of my contact lenses blown out of my eye by the jet engine at an SRL show.
posted by twiggy32 at 10:47 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just watched Mark Pauline get interviewed for 90 minutes, fielding such questions as "what is more important: conviction? Or compromise?" And "what are the main differences between men and women, physical characteristics aside?" Which he handled pretty well, though he struck me slightly bemused that anyone would be interested in his opinion of such matters.

Apparently he's a newsjunkie and reads, he says, 10 to 20 newspapers and blogs every day. Also, his family apparently subscribed to the Atheists Newsletter (or something like that) and got it twice a month while he was a boy. I had no idea Atheists were so well organized, especially back in the day.

The interviewer did ask about his art, as well, and what Mark felt drove artists to keep doing it for 34 years, as he has, and some other pertinent questions.

The space in which they did the interview is a film archive in the Mission in San Francisco. I had no idea it existed.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:41 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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