Arturo Vidich’s “The Daedalus Effect and other dilemmas” Presented by NYLA at the Invisible Dog
Arturo Vidich’s performance piece The Daedalus Effect and other dilemmas is memorable, if unpleasant. It begins with Arturo seated in the center of The Invisible Dog, on a crude one-legged stool that is affixed to his hips. We are instructed to remove our shoes and move about the space, which is filled with “automatons”: a conical blue parachute inflated by a fan, a large light box/platform, angular metal objects of various sizes and several machines that make sounds and blink. They look both high-tech and kind of retro, like prototypes of future useful things.
Arturo makes a series of buzzing vocalizations, ranging from hornet to didgeridoo to howling dog and sometimes jarringly veering into lucid human speech. The sound environment is slightly horror movie-esque, accompanied by the frequent screech of grinding metal parts. The work is extreme, aurally and physically, and we stop just short of actually worrying about his safety. He spins metal disks on a sharp rod that resembles a fencing saber and operates a machine/sculpture with his knees dangerously close to its rotating metal pipes. He wrenches his (very capable) body into terrible-looking positions and jams it inside of cubic metal frames, hanging upside down inside of one by his shoulders while dangling another from his toes. He climbs on top of apparatuses and tumbles off of them, sending audience members scurrying. He finally performs a clenched, distorted dance on a raised platform while wearing a flesh-toned mask.
We follow him as he moves through mini-environments, navigating a torture chamber of his own making. We have to negotiate this minefield also: do we maintain a safe distance but a compromised view or risk being dive-rolled upon or impaled? The question comes up of how one deals with an inhospitable man-made habitat: his solution seems to be to become machine, using his mouth and extremities to complete mechanical tasks and configuring his body to best utilize and survive alongside his inventions. All of the quirky innovations and faux-recklessness could come across as cloyingly clever, if not for the hostility of the environment. The playfulness is tempered by the reality of inevitable failure. He wishes to inspire in us a heuristic relationship with our material world, and his singular dedication makes DIY seem like a worthy goal, though high stakes.