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Village Voice – May 3rd 2005

Virtual Reality: Gawking at Writers in Unnatural Habitats
by Ed Park

Georges Simenon could write a novel in 11 days; according to a since debunked legend, he once finished an entire book in a day, enclosed David Blaine-like in a clear room while the public watched. Beginning May 7, Flux Factory’s “living installation” Novel puts three authors – Grant Bailie, Ranbir Sidhu, and former Voicean Laurie Stone – in three different enclosed environments for 30 days. Visitors can watch them scribble or stew from 3 to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from noon to 4 p.m. on weekends. On June 4, the writers come out of the chrysalis having completed a brand-new novel. (Then they’re welcome to participate in my installation, which is a five-year artwork called Revision.) Designed by a team of architect-artists and guest curated by Bee Season author Myla Goldberg, Novel features weekly Saturday-evening readings of the works in progress. A May 15 panel discussion (featuring Goldberg and journalist-fictioneer Tom Bissell) and a May 22 forum with the space designers will further elaborate the issues involved: creativity, solitude, concentration, how to go to the bathroom. Here’s hoping the author-subjects can stick to their stories: Didn’t Pascal posit that all human misery comes from the inability of man to sit still in a room?

Architect-artist Ian Montgomery
photo: Cody Montgomery

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