All Posts By

Ben

GRANDMA

By | Projects

GRANDMA was founded by Kate McGee, Peter Mills Weiss, and Tim Platt; in 2013 I joined as the fourth member (Julia Mounsey made five in 2015). Creating surreal and meticulous performance works drawing from the vocabulary of stand-up comedy, multi-level marketing schemes, TED talks, and ‘The Moth’-style storytelling, GRANDMA explored questions of family, friendship, identity, masculinity, and culture in the post-internet age.

Our work was developed and performed at Cloud City, Incubator Arts Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, CATCH performance series, PS122’s COIL Festival, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, The Invisible Dog, Silent Barn, and LaMaMa ETC.

SATURDAY (2013) @ Incubator Arts Project

MAKE PEOPLE (pt 1) (2014) @ Ars Nova

MAKE PEOPLE (pts 1 & 2) (2015) @ LaMaMa ETC

Cloud City

By | Projects

One of the few community arts spaces still active in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Cloud City was founded in 2012 by Liz Beeby, Nicki Ishmael, Andrew Lynch, Katie Melby, Jeff Seal, and myself.

First anniversary gala

From 2012 – 2015 I served as Producing Artistic Director of Cloud City; during that time I produced over 50 events, from concerts to art openings to comedy to immersive theater to film screenings to potlucks to burlesque to lectures. (And beyond.) I was also an artist in residence, taking part in the creation of a number of performances (Dream I Tell You, SATURDAY, Silent Film, Rise and Fall, among others). I created and curated a short form performance series, New skin for the old ceremony, that showcased the work of dozens of performance-based artists in dance, theatre, comedy, performance art, and music.

 

Cloud City lives on! Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood and tell them Ben says hi.

Seven Minutes in Heaven

By | Interactive

An exploration of guided intimacy and the performance of romance

It begins with a shot. Of whiskey, usually. The two participants are given audio devices and headphones and are directed to begin playback simultaneously while standing outside of a room. Once the audio begins, a friendly voice instructs the players to follow its directions and “do their best”. Once participants are inside the small, dimly lit room, Seven Minutes in Heaven attempts to live up to its name.

7 Minutes in Heaven

Originally created in 2012 in Minneapolis for The Wyld Plan with MYNDWYRM, Seven Minutes in Heaven has been shown in Minneapolis (Halloween Space), Portland (RECESS Gallery), and Brooklyn (Cloud City).

P.I.C.N.I.C. (Performative Interactions Creating Naturally Inclusive Community)

By | Interactive

Examining the boundaries of public and private space in Northeast Minneapolis

A group of thirty people assemble on a grassy vacant lot in Northeast Minneapolis. Each has downloaded an MP3 track necessary for the experience of this piece. Unbeknownst to the participants, not each person has the same track. Individuals begin their audio simultaneously; they are prompted to explore the field in which they stand, collecting painted rocks which they arrange at the center of the lot. Instructed to form a circle, they look at each other. One person steps forward into the circle; the others applaud her. She races to the edge of the field, whipping a tarp off of an object to reveal a bicycle, which she rides off on, down the street, as the others wave goodbye. And so begins P.I.C.N.I.C. 

P.I.C.N.I.C.

The remaining players split in two, walking and sometimes running in groups to find hidden items necessary to complete the piece. They are prompted to paint on walls, rearrange environmental objects, and sometimes to pause and listen to some poetry by a bridge.

P.I.C.N.I.C.

Occasionally each group will glimpse the other in the distance as they traverse empty playgrounds, train tracks, dried up ponds, and a community garden. As the groups reassemble (for a picnic, obviously) the lone bicyclist returns–with ice cream bars.

P.I.C.N.I.C. was created in collaboration with MYNDWYRM in Minneapolis in July 2012.

Sad Portland

By | Interactive

“Welcome. I am sorry to inform you that you have reached the Sad Portland hotline. If you are currently in the depressing cemetery, please press 1. If you are in the gloomy schoolyard, please press 2.”

Sad Portland

First you’ll need to get ahold of one of the Sad Portland maps, distributed to Portland galleries and theatres. On the photocopied hand-drawn map, the top half of the page is occupied by a depiction of an area of Southeast Portland of about a mile in size. On the map are indicated various points of interest–a sad abandoned lot, a disused former school building, a macabre cemetery. The bottom half of the page features a drawing of two tombstones, with some of the numerals in the birth and death dates obscured by symbols. At the bottom of the page is a ten-digit phone number with some of its numerals obscured by these same signals.

To play, one must go to the cemetery indicated on the map, find the tombstones, and plug in the appropriate numbers to reach the Sad Portland hotline, at which point the experience begins in earnest.

Featuring hours of non-linear content reachable through the interactive hotline, Sad Portland is a afternoon-sized rabbit-hole to go get gloomy in.

Sad Portland

Created in collaboration with MYNDWYRM, Sad Portland was commissioned by RECESS Gallery in Portland, Oregon, in August 2012.

Knollr

By | Interactive

Satisfy your OCD and fit all of the objects in the frame at a 45°/90° angle. Exactly. No gaps. And on time. ASAP. Recommended if you like packing things nicely and neatly.

screenshot1_200

Created for the 2016 Global Game Jam “Ritual” with Nic Albrecht, Chloe Chia, Dominic Liu, and Alex Voskuil. Additional information and a downloadable version of Knollr can be found here.

Cartball

By | Interactive

fast-paced, hilarious, requires a stolen shopping cart

Cartball, Portland

Created in collaboration with Minneapolis-based collective MYNDWYRM, Cartball is a 3v3 game in which teams compete to score points by throwing a ball into a shopping cart controlled by the defense. For a sense of the rules and gameplay, watch this goofy video:

 

National Psychogeographic

By | Interactive

“Turn so that the wind is at your back. When you reach the blue building, call me again.”

A highly subjective urban journey, directed by phone.

bikeview

Participants begin in a gallery space by calling the National Psychogeographic Hotline, which guides them through a meditative centering exercise inside the gallery before inviting them to hang up, walk outside, get onto their bike, go to the end of the block, and then call the hotline back. With each new call, the hotline delivers new directions for the biker, some of which are concrete (‘take the third right’), some of which are more open (‘go whichever direction reminds you most of your childhood home’). Each journey is unique, and designed to provide an unexpected series of encounters with the environment. At the end of the journey, participants are given a pad of paper and a pen with which to sketch a map of their trip. These maps were displayed in the gallery of origin.

Commissioned by RECESS Gallery, Portland, OR, in 2012.

Created with

OpenVBX

Start by pressing on your eyeballs

By | Interactive

That feeling you get when someone else is touching your phone

phoneInDark

In a pitch-dark room, a boombox tinnily plays spooky music. A voice interrupts the music and invites the audience to use their phones to light their way to the stage to come sit in a circle. Sitting together in the semi-dark, lit by blue device-light, the audience/participants are guided through a ritual series of steps involving their phones. Caressing a stranger’s phone with their fingertips, having their own personal device ever so gently touched by another, the exercise is either meditative or nerve-wracking, depending on your relationship to your little rectangle. Given a number to text their thoughts to, the participants then split up and move around the room to find some privacy. One by one their phones ring, and as participants answer, the discordant variety of ring-tones gives way to a shimmering, phasing soundscape, each face lit ghostly from beneath.

Created for the Tank Theater’s Dark Theatre Festival in February 2013

MAKE PEOPLE (parts 1 & 2)

By | Directing

It’s a show about doing you. And our need to consume, acquire, and destroy. There are also some fun surprises, and fresh beats.

MAKE PEOPLE pt 1

MAKE PEOPLE (parts 1 & 2) was presented by LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club/s The Club October 23 through November 1st, 2015.

Previewed at Ars Nova’s ANT Fest in June 2015 and at CATCH performance series in October & December 2014 and at PS122’s COIL Festival in January 2015. Developed in part through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s 2014 – 2015 Workspace Program.

Created by GRANDMA. GRANDMA = Ben Gansky, Mike McGee, Julia Mounsey, Tim Platt, and Peter Mills Weiss.