Slam dunks are God's gift to sports. Few bursts of movement are more poetic, exhilarating and physically intense than watching a gigantic man crush a basketball through the hoop into the blackest depths of hell, to the frenzied delight of thousands of screaming spectators.
What happens when you take one of the most famous dunks in the world, Michael Jordan's championship run up from the back of the court at the 1987 NBA Slam Dunk Contest (start at 1:08 in the video below), and stretch that 12-second clip into a 24-hour movie projected on your apartment wall? It's called art.
Artist-curator Megan Harned and visual artist Greg Petrovic are doing just that. I spoke to Harned about the project, The Ecstasy and the Agony of the Air Jordan: The 24-Hour Dunk That Rocked The World, and how it explores the concepts of movement, attention and performance by way of a really slowed-down clip of MJ. For 24 hours, Harned will open her Northeast apartment to the public for a viewing of the clip, complete with a rotating smorgasbord of snacks for every hour of the day and night.
WW: So this is one 12-second dunk stretched out over the course of 24 hours, correct?
Megan Harned: Yes, it's sort of like a barely moving image. I think the frame rate is one frame every four minutes. My friend Greg Petrovic is the artist behind it. I asked my friend Greg Petrovic, the artist behind this piece, why he made this thing. He was like "eh," and I said, "All right, I'll show it on my apartment wall."
What concepts are being explored with this installation?
Greg is a pretty quiet guy, who isn't really into sports himself. When I offered to do something with this slowed-down dunk he made, we got a little creative with it. We decided to incorporate classic "sports fan" food like chips and dip and chili dogs into the viewing, all of the food that you would eat while watching a game.
For me, I am interested in the concept of "slow looking": the idea of how much attention we need or we have for looking at just one thing at a time. So that concept is kind of my contribution to this installation. Greg is coming at it as a way of exploring communal gestures around watching sports: getting together, sitting in front of a screen, watching this spectacle.
To do that, we're projecting the video piece onto my apartment wall. I'm not going to turn it into a gallery space. Greg and I both wanted this installation to feel more domestic. We are going to be heading in and out of the kitchen, bringing food in and out to the table we're going to set up in front of the projection alongside other paraphernalia and sportsy stuff. Essentially, we're playing around with the rituals of watching sports while looking at notions of attention and looking, the "art thing" that I am interested in right now.
What do you mean by "attention and looking"?
I work in a theater, but I have a background in visual arts. I've observed the difference in how people engage in performing arts versus how they engage with visual arts, and I feel like the experience of viewing art can itself be a scene. Some people aren't going out on First Thursday to look at the work, but more to be seen viewing the work. Viewers can walk in and look at a piece and feel like they have engaged with it. For me, however, the question is: How do you get people to look longer? How long can we look at this for and continue to get something out of it?
This is my curatorial framework for doing one viewing for 24 hours, instead of, for example, saying that this installation is going to be up all March. With the performing arts, you have to be there in a seat to see the thing, to participate in it. You can fall asleep in your seat, but there is a forced level of attention. You have to pay attention for at least this long if you're going to watch a piece of dance or a piece of theater or a piece of music. I am exploring that concept in the visual arts.
This is going to take place in your apartment, only once, for a full 24-hour period?
Absolutely. We're going to have chips and dip, and we're going to have a series of different dishes like pulled pork and chili dogs, stuff like that, at different hours. If you come out around 2 am, we'll be pulling something out of the kitchen. Hopefully, people come at those odd hours because it will be interesting and engaging. When the bars close down, we're going to have some food. That's all I'm saying.
We're definitely looking for people to come and experience this piece. Obviously, this is my apartment, and I do have neighbors, so its not a party, per se. People can come and socialize, but it's not going to be a ruckus drinking art event. This is a sitting and looking and eating some food art event. Nonetheless, people can come in and view in whatever state they're in.
Go: The Ecstasy and the Agony of the Air Jordan: The 24-Hour Dunk That Rocked The World is at Megan's apartment, 2509 NE Weidler St., Apt. 2. 6 pm Saturday-6 pm Sunday, April 2-3.
Note: Megan's apartment is a second-story walk-up. Contact her on the event's Facebook page for disability accommodations.