MERGE#13.) Is contemporary art too sterile and safe?
#5.) Dream up an interesting collaboration.
#19.) Why invite an audience?
#44.) How do you decide when it’s time to shift from brainstorming about a new work to actually creating something in the studio?
#45.) How can we balance creative needs in new work with respect for the time and labor of collaborators?

When entering MERGE, a conversation-interactive mixer for Austin’s Fusebox Festival held last Friday, the first thing I met was a registry table on the driveway of the new, picturesque, 1500 Summit condos perched on hill overlooking the Austin skyline. At the registry there was a metal bucket brimming with numbered slips of paper, each with a question or statement to be answered by participants in real time on Twitter.

MERGE attempted to bridge various ideas on art, audiences, and geography for the 2010 Festival and did so with a subtle smash. There was free Dos Equis and wine (a must for my attendance), and featured Graham Reynolds & Golden Arm Trio, DJ Butcher Bear & Charlie in one condo, DJ Johnny Bravvo in another condo, various videos by Circulatory System. Art was on display from Shawn Camp, Brandon Gonzalez, Adreon Henry, Michael Merck, and Hank Waddell. The use of the empty condos was inspired. One artist filled a bathtub with rubber ducks. I felt like I was in a Miami Vice episode directed by David Lynch (the condos were very Vice).

The night was inventive in the way the Fusebox gang used technology to galvanize the party-goers. As opposed to asking people to turn off their cell phones, MERGE embraced the devices. A projector blasted Twitter against one of the condo walls and people could engage in a streaming collective conversation by tagging their tweet posts with #fuseboxfestival. My answer to number thirteen was a straightforward “Yes”. I’m interested and I would like to know your response to the above questions. The metal bucket was flowing with questions, but I tried to snag a few that would be of interest to culturebot readers. Please leave your answers to these questions in the comment section.

Timothy Braun

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