Walking up the wide, carpeted banister at The Earth House I heard a faint, familiar sound that instantly reminded me of my pre-teen years: the twanging buzz and whispering static of a dial-up modem connecting to the internet. As I rounded the corner a young man with dark hair and glasses greeted me. I noticed a name tag that read Al Gore. “Hi there,” he said. “Welcome. I created the Interweb. I hope you have a great time at all the websites you’re getting ready to visit. But be careful on your journey. There’s a lot of viruses out there.”
As we reached the top of the stairs, two members of the Know No Stranger (KNS) crew were waiting with large, odd, papier-mâché blocks on their heads. “We’re viruses,” they explained while stepping in front of me, slightly hindering my ability to enter The Interweb. I laughed awkwardly and politely stepped around them.
Overhead projectors, a KNS favorite in the world of props, shone circuit board designs on walls, the dial-up noise was louder and more prominent now, and the floor was littered with golf ball-size yellow dots everywhere.
Several KNS members were parading the room wearing rectangular canvas curtains as long as their bodies and as wide as their arm span. “Click here! Click here! Click here!” one yelled as she charged at me with her arms waving and the curtain flapping. Quickly stepping to the side, I narrowly avoided the pop-up ad attack.
A slow-moving robot (whose costume consisted of a water cooler jug over his head and a gaudy cardboard suit of armor) stumbled across the floor bumping into visitors- a clunky, visual representation of the technical term “re-boot”.
In the center, a small living room environment had been set up. Another KNS member sat in one of two armchairs with more paper mache headgear, this time designed to look like a familiar Hollywood monster with long, futuristic dreadlocks. The set-up was labeled “online predator”.
My wandering eyes first led me to my own Interweb addiction: the inevitable Facebook. A larger-than-life presentation of the website’s most popular feature, the status update, extended from the ground to the upper balcony. Guests were asked to fill in pages from a coloring book (to become their profile picture) and to write a message on a long, rectangular piece of paper (their status). They then fixed their artwork to the revolving scroll that stretched the entire height of the room.
On the stage, a lone gentleman sat cross-legged on a chair playing his guitar. Though he was the only one making music, his tunes managed to carry over the chaos of the room. The sign in front of him, mocking the internet radio station Pandora, read “Panda-aura” and included a large cardboard cut out of a thumbs up. He sang a variety of songs both familiar and unknown, some good and some bad. When listeners were displeased, they stepped to the sign and rotated the hand to a thumbs down position.
In the far corner, my curiosity got the best of me as I walked through a door next to a large black and red sign that read “ADULT CONTENT”. The stairwell was dark and dimly lit with red lights, creating a mysterious, sinister atmosphere. To my relief (okay, maybe just a little disappointment), the only adult content I found in the exclusive lair that I was lured into was charts of stocks and bonds, pamphlets about joining the Chamber of Commerce, and two very mature gentlemen smoking pipes and discussing other grown-up subject matter.
Additional stops in the Interweb included a Google booth, online games, E-Mingle, Your Tube, Hickipedia, and the E Buy station. There was also a “system shut-down” during which all actors halted their actions, the lights went out, and a visual treat was performed on stage. If you attended Optical Popsicle, the format would have been familiar.
Know No Stranger is excited to present another installation of The Interweb during the May edition of First Friday in Fountain Square’s Wheeler Building. The event is appropriate for all ages and includes a significant amount of fun interaction between performers and spectators. It’s a must-see for anyone seeking a whimsical, unique experience built around art, creativity, music, and humor.