Preview: Goat Farm to fund large-scale projects off campus, starting with “Field Experiment”

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Come July, the Goat Farm will shift the locus of its programming from its 19th-century campus in West Midtown to the living, breathing streets of Atlanta.

Rather than its 150+ annual programs, the beloved, bohemian enclave plans to consolidate its resources to focus on three large-scale public projects over the next 12 months, hoping to enrich the city’s cultural ecosystem through off-site public encounters.

Inaugurating the initiative, Field Experiment, created in partnership with The Hambidge Center, seeks live interactive engagement with the Atlanta public through what Goat Farm co-owner Anthony Harper calls public “disorientation.”

The goal is to dislodge unsuspecting passers-by from autopilot states of attention. “I think that we can learn things from friction or loss of control,” he says.

“There’s something productive about disorientation. The mind can get stuck in habit, and it needs something to rip it out of gear so that it can open up and be ready for something new.”

“Public interventions” have become increasingly popular in contemporary art amid the advent of art as a socially engaged practice. Flux Projects, Dashboard Co-op and Elevate are among Atlanta organizations who work in this vein, along with dance platform GloATL, whose studios reside at the Goat Farm. Like them, the curatorial team for Field Experiment — Harper, Jamie Badoud, Teresa Bramlette Reeves, Ben Goldman and Mark DiNatale — is as civically motivated it is artistically, hoping to broaden the public’s understanding of and reception to contemporary art.

The vision for Field Experiment is also to expand the imagination of what’s possible for Atlanta artists, while also providing the means to realize more impactful works, according to Hambidge executive director Badoud.

“We wanted to create something unconventional that let the artist think big and collaborate, to do something interesting that took risks,” he says.

The finalists for the inaugural project are Jeffrey Collins; Micah and Whitney Stansell; Mark Wentzel; Kris Pilcher, Kevin Byrd and Dale Adams; and art star Mel Chin with artist colleague Severn Eaton.

Each of their proposed interdisciplinary projects connect the dots between art and other fields — urban studies, virtual reality, public architecture, behavioral design.

Architect Jeffrey Collins’ Envelope seeks to disrupt Atlanta’s horizon line through site-specific architectural enhancements on existing buildings downtown. Working in tandem with Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture, Collins wants to reexamine Atlanta’s history and identity through the public’s relationship to its visual presence, punctuating the city’s overlooked elements in unexpected ways.

Pilcher, Byrd and Adams have invented The Dream Collection Agency, a corporate entity specializing in the collection, documentation and recycling of dreams. The public can donate dreams via the online Dream Depository which will then be converted into 3D virtual reality experiences. The project probes the relationship between virtual reality and its impact on “naturally” occurring mental images.

Chin and Eaton proposed Jam-D-Jam!, a play on the phenomenon of the bemoaned Atlanta traffic jam. A “radio based interactive entertainment intervention” allows the public to dial in auditory contributions while stuck in traffic. The collection of sound bites will be transformed into musical sound pieces by a range of Atlanta musicians and music producers and replayed live over an FM radio frequency.

Teaser versions of each finalist’s project will be on view at the annual Hambidge Art Auction May 30 at the Goat Farm. The winner, who will be announced June 5, will receive a $20,000 commission, a two-week residency at Hambidge, and administrative and production support.

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