Smoky Hill River Outpost (2002)

Infiltrating the heartland of America, the Center for Tactical Magic worked with the Salina Art Center, the City of Salina (Kansas), and a dozen local high school students to construct a 30 ft. surveillance clubhouse directly behind the back of the city park’s Statue of Liberty. An amalgam of playhouse, pyramid, pentagon, prison, and panopticon, the multiple-level structure was comprised of various access points, observation areas, and an exotic range of surveillance mechanisms. Combining high-tech equipment (pinhole cameras, wireless transmitters, thumbprint scan access, radio scanners, electronic bugging devices, and more) with more arcane means of information acquisition (telepathy, astral projection, ouija, tarot, astrology, crystal gazing, and others) the Outpost was the physical manifestation of a fantastical integration of extra-sensory perception. Enclosed within a 120 ft. pentagonal perimeter of chainlink fence, the entire structure materialized as a crude pyramid incorporating a mish-mash of construction materials and access points ranging from gates ...

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Infiltrating the heartland of America, the Center for Tactical Magic worked with the Salina Art Center, the City of Salina (Kansas), and a dozen local high school students to construct a 30 ft. surveillance clubhouse directly behind the back of the city park’s Statue of Liberty. An amalgam of playhouse, pyramid, pentagon, prison, and panopticon, the multiple-level structure was comprised of various access points, observation areas, and an exotic range of surveillance mechanisms. Combining high-tech equipment (pinhole cameras, wireless transmitters, thumbprint scan access, radio scanners, electronic bugging devices, and more) with more arcane means of information acquisition (telepathy, astral projection, ouija, tarot, astrology, crystal gazing, and others) the Outpost was the physical manifestation of a fantastical integration of extra-sensory perception. Enclosed within a 120 ft. pentagonal perimeter of chainlink fence, the entire structure materialized as a crude pyramid incorporating a mish-mash of construction materials and access points ranging from gates and sliding bookcases to two-way mirrors and false doorways. The lowest of the three levels consisted of the central security gate, the yard (with sprinkler), a peep nook, the Audio Surveillance Chamber (ASC), and the Comfortable Containment Unit (CCU) which included a camouflage couch, tinted security domes, a mounted pig’s head with secret snout-cam, and a clear-cased prison TV (that received a wireless feed from a camera mounted on Liberty’s bosom at the park’s entrance). Level two granted access to the observation deck, the Genie (a 30 ft scissor lift which provided a bird’s eye view of the park), and the Control Room which featured multiple surveillance monitors, police and cell phone scanners, a crystal ball with a video feed, and coffee & donuts (the fuel of authority). The third and highest level transcended all mechanisms of control and provided occupants with a heightened perspective from the top of the pyramid. The Smoky Hill River Outpost was envisioned simultaneously as 1) a critical attempt to construct a home in a land of security; 2) an innocent-looking, temporary autonomous zone that features an arsenal of tactical tools; 3) a gateway to the liberatory potential of the magical and creative arts; 4) a social experiment examining and exposing the inherent manipulations attached to issues of security; and 5) an easily-consumed and entertaining gesture that encourages the close examination and breaching of security systems. To fully realize these goals, the Center for Tactical Magic also coordinated several events at the Outpost, including: a free Dance Party featuring local DJs; a Graffiti Workshop for teens; a drop-in tour of Target’s security system; Restricted-Access Periods (boys only, girls only, kids only, teens only, adults only); and an Astral Projection Workshop where participants infiltrated the White House and other restricted sites using their astral bodies. Together, the magical and the technological joined forces to explore the relationship between homeland security and the mystification of technology.

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