The Lachrymator is an installation of kinetic sculpture and live performance that recreates the narrative structure of a dramatic film by means of a process of food preparation. Comparing the emotional power of mediated image to the reflective chemical defense mechanisms of organisms, the piece draws parallels between two systems of mediation – narrative cinema and industrial food processing.
The Lachrymator was on view at The Miller Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA in March and April of 2015.
Media: Foam and acrylic farm, origin story video (3 minutes), modified power wheels, steel conveyors, vinyl, rubber, steel onion chopper, modified food processors, kinetic dioramas, 5 motors, 4 tripods, 4 analog cameras, 4-channel live feed, matrix switcher serially controlled by computer running MAX msp, projector, stock cinematic trailer music titled “Birth of a Hero,” 8 - 10 performers, costumes, onions.
"Isla Hansen’s Onion Empire was the most captivating. Hansen documents with live performance and camera feeds the hypothetical life cycles of onions from birth to death. The dramatic narrative of food preparation will leave tears in your eyes. Really. The entire floor was dedicated to onion dicing. So extreme was this, a blender with goggles attached allowed participants to enjoy all the wonders of the delicious onion. The only warning is, since this was a large production – if you go to see it, the experience will not be the same without the actors."
-- Foo Connor for Jekko
Live performances of The Lachrymator occurred two nights during the show. Conveyor belts were custom built, and all physical computing and robotics programmed with arduino IDE. Live feed was achieved with 4 analog cameras throughout the space routed to matrix switcher serially controlled by MAX msp.