EMA: I Wanna Destroy
MoMA PS1; Long Island City, NY

February 15 landed on a Sunday, so I went to see EMA: I Wanna Destroy at MoMA with friends. We snooped around the museum before the VW Dome opened, and the only three things we discussed were: (1) How virtually real EMA’s Oculus Rift will feel and if we should use the bathroom first, (2) Will there be Oculus Rift stations inside the dome for people to experience personally and others can watch, and (3) Does EMA play an entirely new set, as this performance would be happening for about four hours? A few of us (separately) took a fear tinkle in the unisex bathroom filled with children, and then the four of us entered the WV Dome where EMA was hosting the entire exhibit.

When we entered, there were scattered attendees amongst us, and EMA on a platform in the middle just feet above the mingling audience, sitting on a couch reading from a white paper into a microphone. The couch was red, framed by philodendron, and in front of her was a table with a PC monitor where she was manipulating sounds, her recordings, and had notes pinned to the back. Water bottles, coffee mugs, energy drinks, and syrup medicine containers strewn a halo of garbage around EMA as she read letters from her mother about success in college or to her friends about huffing in college, [etc.] — in college. She’d occasionally sing a new song, or at least one our group wasn’t familiar with, and it’d compete with lingering loops of letters being read earlier, fading with each introduction, “Dear…”

The virtual reality experience was being held Behind EMA, as a line formed there for people to sit in front of a camera with the Oculus Rift on. Cast upon the dome were projections of a blond woman sitting on a couch in a dimly lit room, and you saw what the attendee saw in the Oculus Rift. Eventually, snakes would crawl along the wall, there were beer cans and water bottles on the floor, a table between the viewer and the couch, and the Unibomber in a framed picture to the right on a cocktail table. Then a long, headless snake slithered through a door, along the floor, and through the viewer’s legs; the blond on the couch turns into a lizard person, and the room fades — minus the lizard person — into a clouded sky. Angels and starts and twinkles and blue roses floated toward the viewer, around the lizard person, and in about five minutes, the experience was passed along to the next person in line.

It was interesting how involved everyone was on ONE person’s experience, rather than a collective experience there; CUT TO: some dude behind us bragging to a girl, “This is nothing compared to the Apple 6 line.” In a way, EMA: I Wanna Destroy was an art exhibit of itself, as EMA was flagrantly displaying herself as both the artist and the “Piece of work” you’re experiencing. She was the only thing traversing both reality and virtuality too, as there was no sound to the 3D imaging. So as I ascended behind EMA, and my companion just finished with the Oculus Rift, I sat in the chair, faced the camera, and the virtual visor was placed upon my crown.

The inner-world of this was MUCH brighter than it was cast upon the VW Dome. I could hear her music, and the wind picking up outside, slightly terrified the dome would be blown to shreds. I noticed Jim Morrison’s framed picture on the wall behind me. Realized this was totally a Lizard King motif, and felt like the whole experience was the programmer’s acid flashback listening to The Doors, which I can accept, personally. I also tried to focus a little longer on what other people didn’t, and would shake my head quickly in attempt to blur the vision, but it only gridded the images’ smoothness. Once the images began floating toward me in the clouds, I stared straight down and saw 2D (paper-thin) images float past where my feet were IRL, but no ground. I fear-tinkled a little. Then a tap on my shoulder from the Oculus Rift administrator, I got down, and the four of us watched EMA for about 20 more minutes and split, as she did for a cigarette break.

• EMA: http://www.iwannadestroy.com

Most Read