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on March 30, 2007 at 7:45:42 pm

Title: Refuel, Refuge, Refugee, Refuse, Re-fuse -- 1991


In his best known work McDiarmid working in the Chesapeake Bay wetlands, bathed in gallons of the used motor oil collected from his own automobile. In an interview he stated, “I thought if I am out there driving then I am Exxon, I am the captain of the Valdeze.—and if this stuff (oil) is good enough for me to dump into the environment and onto the heads of other creatures then I better be willing to experience the same thing—so I did”. In 1991 with the aid of an Ohio University Research Grant and the support of American Wildlife Inc a private wildlife reserve, the Chrisfield Art association, and others McDiarmid’s team took an expedition deep into the Maryland wetlands.


On site McDiarmid bathed himself in the oil, coating himself from head to toe and also ‘bathing’ animal shadow puppets that represented many of the life forms that shared the wetlands. “It’s easy to think about scrubbing a big mammal clean, something like myself or a sea otter, sure, it’s physically traumatic but it’s survivable--but what about a dragonfly, or a jellyfish?


I made all these cardboard cut-outs of the animal life out there, and each one I dipped into the oil and then tried to rescue it by scrubbing it clean—nothing prepares you for the kind of concentration being doused in oil creates, I worked for some time to just get the stuff out of my eyes and only when I had that done did I realize I had a mouth full of oil—you can see it on the video I’m cleaning my eyes for several minutes and then suddenly when they are clear I spit out this big mouthful—I didn’t even know it was in my mouth I was so busy with my eyes.

Actions in Environment


2007 McDiarmid’s Newest Project ‘Trickster’ Underway:


The Trickster Project, is a mobile technological artwork engaged with remote desert landscapes, many voices, cultural values, and social concerns. Trickster is designed to serve art’s ancient mission as forum for discourse and as metaphoric medicine.


I engage in abracadabra—from which startling clarity appears out of seemingly absurd acts. Art is not a discrete concept--it happens as part of a weave wherein ritual versions of actions and materials merge with healing intent. Art may actually ‘be’ the catalyzed interactions of individuals generated from such occurrences.


Carried to diverse and remote publicly accessible desert sites by an expedition team collaborating with local groups, Trickster, (a semi-autonomous, solar-powered ice-cream freezer upon a ‘litter-vehicle’ adorned with luxurious fabric attire and equipped with video and thermo-graphic surveillance, gps, and computer archiving capabilities) will provide free ice cream, mystery, and downloadable DVD’s to hikers, herders, and all those who happen upon it. A second ‘linked’ digital Trickster will reside in cyber-space expanding the discursive scope. The accumulation of alterable data provided via ‘wikipedia’ modalities on these two Tricksters is to become a collaboratively authored lore investigating the values imbedded in technological development and application. A ‘lore’ that embraces contradictory interpretations fusing the voices of the indigenous and alien into a community of participants collectively seeking to understand and interpret the difficult implications of the Trickster object--which models generously fulfilling individual desires achieved through heroic efforts in the service of a frivolous goal of dubious value. Catalyzing a ‘disarmed public exchange’ is the project’s poetic.



Contact: Mcdairmi@ohio.edu

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