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The DropIN/PopUP Waiting Room Project at the Spencer Museum of Art

Thursday, November 8, 2012

September 22 - January 27, 2013
20/21 Gallery, Process Space & Front Lobby

Local artists Marguerite Perret and Bruce Scherting, in collaboration with Bay Area artists Robin Lasser and James Stone, explore a complex topic through the psychologically rich context of the waiting room.  The artists ask,

What kind of healthcare system, access, facilities, and services do we desire or expect for ourselves? For others?

Healthcare access and delivery is one of today’s most pressing societal issues. It is inspiring debate and contention in the current election cycle and has been contested for at least the past century in the US. Perhaps beginning with Theodore Roosevelt’s statement that “no country could be strong whose people were sick and poor,” it ignited strong passions around the proposed (failed) Clinton plan in the 1990s. Now, with the passing of the 2009 Affordable Health Care Act (often referred to as Obama Care), healthcare is a front and center issue once more. Often left out of the debate are real conversations between providers, the public and policy makers, beyond inflammatory sound bites and political maneuvering…what do we really want from healthcare? What do we need?

Instead of the frustration/dread of the standard waiting room, the DropIN/PopUP Waiting Room Project offers a shared space where community members help shape an interactive artistic collaboration, which will evolve over the next few months as Museum visitors contribute and reflect on their observations and experiences in two locations in the museum. At the PopUP Voting Station, at the entrance, visitors can vote on healthcare issues and express ideas, concerns, and desires via a short questionnaire which is also available on line at survey.dropinpopup.com/spencer. Data from visitor responses are transformed into an animated visualization titled Growing Concerns. Projected upstairs in the 20/21 Process Space Gallery, Growing Concerns spirals and moves in a way that evokes DNA strands, and zooms in and out of apparent cellular clusters as lines of text swirl in a monochrome of X-ray green. Also upstairs, health care providers, researchers and administrators answer the question, what do you bring to the table? This forms an ambient sound piece The Talking Table, completing the loop from interface to display and audio.

This installation at the Spencer Museum of Art is the prototyping/idea or "Drop IN" phase of a project that will become mobile Spring 2013 and actually pop up in public spaces in the community. The project recognizes that waiting is no longer stationary, it follows us everywhere as we wait for an important medical phone call while in line at the ATM.  But in this version of the waiting room experience, you get to say something about it and lend your voice to an exploration of one of our most challenging social issues.

Scherting is a lecturer for the Museum Studies program.  Learn more about the project on their website - thewaitingroomlostandfound.org/dropin-popup.

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