PRINT May 2008


James Nares

IN HIS 1977–78 SOLO PERFORMANCE Desirium Probe, James Nares became a television transmitter. The piece was performed twice, in downtown New York: once at Joan Jonas’s Mercer Street loft, in 1977, and once at the Kitchen, on Wooster Street, in early 1978. Wearing headphones and white coveralls, Nares stood in a white room facing a television screen, with the audience seated behind it. In his hand was a remote control. For about four hours, he switched from station to station, channeling the words and sounds he heard through the headphones, which only he could hear. He stammered, muttered, sang, and occasionally shouted in a mad mimicry of news reports, sitcoms, dramas, commercials, theme music, as the flickering light from the screen bounced off his pale face and white-sheathed body, bathing the room in a radioactive glow. A physical and mental test of concentration and endurance, a sci-fi

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