If pigs could fly


The University of Nevada, Reno recently hosted Prospectives.09, a three day, international festival that featured works by grad and Ph.D. candidates who explore various methods of digital arts practice. During the festival opening, the artist Doo-Sung Yoo presented his performance, Pig Bladder Clouds, in a public square directly outside the university’s fine arts complex. Yoo, who was dressed as a butcher, constructed floating balloons out of pig bladders, helium filled plastic bags, wood sticks, and LED lights with his two, like-wise costumed assistants, from a public work station he set up in the square. Accompanied by loud, cathedral inspired music from a large speaker, Yoo silently strung his sculptures from strings and staked them into the ground of the perimeter of the square. According to the festival’s website, “The work investigates human-animal hybrids – inspired by the true saga of an old man who re-grew his wounded fingertip using special medicine made from powdered pig bladders.”

As a spectator of the performance, it was encouraging to see the audience’s engagement with Yoo’s pieces. The square hosting the performance is located in a high traffic area of the campus, so it was an optimal location for the work. The daunting music and curious balloons drew a large audience, with people going out of their way to observe the performance. I saw friends and strangers conversing, trying to decide what they were seeing and how they were affected by the presence of these flying objects. I think the most interesting experience was how you found yourself cautious to walk onto the grass of the square. As the crowds began to gather, it felt as if there was a communal acknowledgment that we were witnessing something sacred, and the space needed to be respected.

Peter Whittenberger is a Reno based artist whose work uses various, social practices to explore community engagement and the power of everyday interactions.