You couldn't understand what Jimmy Baker and Nathan Tersteeg were saying to each other during their performance at the Weston Art Gallery Jan. 25. The booms and the chaos were too distracting, muting the frantic communication between the two artists. And that was the point.
Baker and Tersteeg talked to CityBeat before the opening of Harrier: *** at the Weston.
Jimmy Baker: The inception of (Harrier) was a lot of discussing cyclical parallels between psychedelia and the (things) that were happening during Vietnam and Psychedelic music as protest and a sort of response to war and frustration ... and how that relates to where we are today.
Nathan Tersteeg: Despite an equally troubling global initiative by our country, we don't have a very solid, formed counterculture reaction. When we do manage to get together we do things like Live Aid or something for these environmental causes ... They're really benign to the status quo, whereas the (protests) of the '60s were totally counterculture.
CityBeat: What does this piece have to do with protest and counterculture?
NT: We were trying to find a signifier that had something to do with brokenness.
JB: So we wound up with the Harrier Jet.
NT: The point of the plane is that it is very flawed mechanically; initially it had something like a 14 percent rate of success. Now it's still in use ... The current incarnation of the Harrier Jet is for use in really long surveillance missions. It has all these sensors, but it's not an attack vessel anymore. So the object is sort of impotent.
JB: It's still current in some incarnation. And it was around to see the span of the last 50 years, so I guess that circumstance to Vietnam and the counterculture response to the war, and then today we have Iraq and other various American posts and occupations throughout the Middle East. Kids might be extremely upset about something, but there is nothing there to unify anyone to create an idealistic protest.
NT: That kind of unity can exist, but right now it's all so fractured. There's no way that anyone can feel like they're all speaking for one thing, one goal.
JB: In terms of the performance, we are tying to figure out what's gone wrong with the plane, working around the object and yelling at each other over the sound piece, so we are in the middle of the situation. But I think in a lot of ways the performance will imply a sort of self-awareness. Our generation is to some extent — we can be really hyper-aware of what's going on, if we chose to be. So the people who are aware are very aware, and I think that gap has really expanded.
NT: (There are) people who read The Smoking Gun and people who play Guitar Hero.
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