Thursday, July 10, 2008

About the DNA

The Department of Nocturnal Affairs is a creative project by artists Tal Yizrael and Caroline Maxwell, that will launch during Santa Monica’s "Glow Festival."

This project is inspired by the fact that most Los Angeles residents have never witnessed the spawning of the grunion, and many of us are largely unaware of the wild animals with which we share our city. We wanted to address the fact that while many of us are sleeping, our city is teeming with animal life— grunion are spawning, owls are hunting, and coyotes are running the streets of Los Angeles County. The Department of Nocturnal Affairs (DNA) will open its field office in Palisades Park on the night of July 19th, 2008 to begin its research on the lives of local nocturnal animals.

The DNA Palisades Park Field Office will consist of a desk and four chairs, a file cabinet, lamp, typewriter, and a bulletin board with a map of Los Angeles County. The aesthetic is that of an old office from another era, which has suddenly appeared in a park under some trees. The desk and the typewriter are illuminated by two lamps. The trees that surround the office will be inhabited by sculptures of various nocturnal creatures… a possum, a raccoon, an owl. Translucent photograms of marine animals will be illuminated and floating against the ocean view, while translucent moths will swarm a streetlamp. The desk will be set with “family photographs” of nocturnal animals, as well as an assortment of reference texts and materials on local wildlife.

The public is invited to visit the office to make a report of any nocturnal animal activity that they may have witnessed. Their report will be typed up, and a copy will be filed with the DNA. They will be invited to identify the location of their reported sighting on a map of Los Angeles County, complete with color-coded map pins to identify which type of animal they have reported about. (for example, possum, raccoon, fox, coyote, owl, deer, grunion, jellyfish, bat, bear, nighthawk, cockroach, moth, scorpion, etc.)

Tal Yizrael and Caroline Maxwell will be present during the festival to take reports and to interact with visitors at the office. The DNA is envisioned as both a work of installation and performance art, and will serve as a platform for the public to share their stories, experience, and knowledge about nocturnal wildlife. The DNA hopes to raise awareness about the existence, intelligence, and fragility of these animals, by encouraging people to act as witnesses to their presence and behaviors. The glow of the desk lamp and the sound of the old typewriter invite you to pull up a chair and tell us your grunion story.

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