Rapture Stations in the Virtual Funhouse
a hyper-media theater machine by John Goss, Alan Pulner and Richard Zvonar

July 7-23, 1989 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art


Text and Creative Director: John Goss
Script and Theatrical Director: Alan Pulner
Soundscape Architect: Rochard Zvonar
HyperCard programming: Robert Orenstein
Set Construction: Adam Finkel
Lighting Design: Larry Oberman
Artisans: Nancy Yeo, Marie Ucci, Erika Brich, Alan Pulner
Electronic Sculptures: Guy Marsden
Furnishing: Christian Kaplan

CAST

Theresa Ambronn (X, White Queen, Shiva)
Walter Bagot (Harvey Gildenstern, Ramanujan, Lord of the Underworld)
Jay Michael Fraley (Arthur Rimbaud)
John Anthony Hill (Hamlet)
Charles Lane (Billie Holiday, Oscar Wilde, David Rosencranz) Mark Laska (Barker, Anti-Barker)
Michael Newland (Y, Red Queen, Vishnu)
Alan Pulner (Bob, Brahma, Alice)

Press Articles

Audio courtesy of Yamaha International and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE)

Administered in part by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts
through Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Art Matters Inc; and the National/State/County Partnership,
a cooperative among Los Angeles County Music and Performing Arts Commission, the California Arts Council
and the National endowment for the Arts.

Further support was given by the Santa Monica Arts Commission; California Institute of the Arts;
Laser Media Inc; About Productions; the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center; and Javier J. Villalobos.

Special thanks to John Gatts, Joel Kabakov, Don Morris, John Bache, Scott Boberg, Robert Hori, Lexington Scenery and Props,
McManus and Morgan, Tom Rhoads, Rachel Rosenthal, Paul Rother, Gary Schwartz, Sylvia Sher,
Carl Stone, Vine American Party Store, and Mark Walthrop.

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Rapture Stations in the Virtual Funhouse was an interactive, computer-controlled environment suggestive of an abandoned carnival ground. Visitors were encouraged to wander and interact during the performances, which had no set beginning, middle, or end. Scenes were shuffled and multiple lights and effects turned on or off semi-randomly by a custom Apple Computer application created using revolutionary HyperCard software, a forerunner of the World Wide Web.

The environmental and performance control software was conceptualized by Goss and programmed by Robert Orenstein. The resulting HyperStack application ran the exhibition and performances, organizing the sequence of scenes by incorporating a controllable degree of randomness. In addition, utilizing artificial intelligence, the computer "Ringmaster" could generate new scenes by scrambling existing text. It also applied this controllable degree of randomness to create an ever-changing environmenal ambience for each scene, controlling on/off and fade in and out parameters for lighting, appliances, slide projectors, toys, MIDI settings, and other audio/visual equipment installed within the museum. The computer screen, displaying text, scene sequence and environmental settings, was projected in real-time within the space.

The script was written by Pulner (with collaboration by Goss on the Barker/Anti-Barker and the "Cold Fusion" monologue). The narrative touched on a variety of contemporary topics such as homophobia, physics, terrorism, mortality, AIDS, historic gay culture, race, the nature of time, freedom, and transcendence. Performances in the ever-changing "funhouse" environment were a constant push-pull between traditional and experimental theater, framed by the seduction/repulsion rants of the Barker/Anti-Barker. Pulner also directed, and performed with, the ensemble.

The audio "score" was composed and mixed live by Zvonar who, stationed in a central wooden tower, sampled the actor's speech, messages phoned into the museum's phone machine, and music played by the audience on a record player within the space. He then treated, mixed and distributed the sound through multiple speakers installed around and above the warehouse-like space. Artists around the country also contributed additional art and text which descended in real-time from the museum's Fax machine hung in the rafters during the exhibition.

The physical space, in which the audience was free to wander and explore, even during performances, included a boardroom, an area for "archeological sifting," and sideshow settings including a mummy sarcophagus, 30' circus banner by Pulner depicting the performers, and various props and devices that the viewers and performers could interact with. There were many visual references throughout installation to Stephen W. Hawking, including his diagrams of space-time and a wheelchair hung overhead on a rotating mirror ball motor.