Magic Theatre Tripping

There was an American media art collective in the 1960s and 1970s called USCO (The “Company” of “Us”) that went around the world producing multimedia art installations and performance art using stroboscopes, projectors, and audiotapes. One of their installations is included in Sevilla’s Center for Contemporary Art’s current exhibition “Abstraction and Motion,” which I got to see Sunday with Adela, her friend Rocío, and Adela’s brother Alberto.

DUELING ADELAS. (THAT’S ME IN THE WHITE SHORTS, AND ME, AND ME, AND ME.)

ROCÍO FLANKED BY HERSELF AND OUR MANY OTHERS.

Walking into the display “Teatro Magico,” you become an integral part of the art creation. You enter through vertical strips of silver mylar that form a curtain. The walls are covered in irregularly draped sheets of mylar and the floor is made up of tie-die-patterned tiles. Music plays. Stroboscopes flash. It’s clearly what tripping on LSD would feel like — to some small extent. (But I can only go by hearsay.)

A DARK MOMENT AND A REVOLVING ROCÍO.

ADELA UNDULATING.

Originally called simply “Strobe Room,” the name “Magic Theatre” comes from the book “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse. In that book, the magic theatre is where the main character, Harry, goes to “interact with the ethereal and phantasmal” and “experience the fantasies that exist in his mind.” All I can think of when I look back at my experience of the Teatro Magico/Strobe Room is the group Steppenwolf’s song, “Magic Carpet Ride.”

We could have spent the afternoon inside, but we tore ourselves away after about 20 minutes. If we had stayed any longer I don’t think we would have been able to walk. As it was, it took a while to “come down” and the other exhibit spaces looked a bit off-kilter for a while. It was a great trip, man…

I WOULD HAVE SWORN THIS WAS PERFECTLY VERTICAL…
…BEFORE WE VISITED THE TEATRO MAGICO.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

20 thoughts on “Magic Theatre Tripping”

  1. I don't need to rely on hearsay when it comes to popular drugs from the Seventies. Viewing this art exhibit brings back the L.A. Art scene for me back when I was going to college.

    1. Stephen:
      I really enjoyed this one. Another part of the exhibit to come tonight.

      My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess reads this post. So, I NEVER EVER DID ANYTHING THAT SHE WOULD NOT HAVE APPROVED OF WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  2. this looks seriously wild and beautiful. Funny you mention lsd today, on general hospital; (yes I watch a soap opera, dont judge) one of the main characters was injected with lsd, her trip looked a bit scary….wild man 😉

  3. Hello Mitch:
    What a strange experience to have such a mind bending Art installation right in your home town of Sevilla. It really must have taken you back through the years as well as offer an out of body and mind experience! What fun it all looks to have been.

  4. Yes, yes, art installation and wobbly mylar all very mind-bending and intellectual and artistic but let's cut to the chase – where the hell can I BUY those groovy tie-dyed floor tiles? I NEED to know! Tell me – NOW! No, seriously, tell me, please … where and I don't even care how much, just tell me where, now, please …

    😉

    p.s. No, seriously – where from?

    1. The Owl Wood:
      Well, they're not actually individual tiles. It was vinyl flooring, I think, and I don't know if it was hand-painted or silk-screened or what (spin art, too). Maybe you can contact Intermedia Systems Corporation, an offshoot of USCO, or Gerd Stern, one of its founders. I'm sure they've got some lying around they'd sell to you cheap ($250,000 for an 8×10 sheet maybe). Nice in a kitchen, don't you think? (I tried Googling tie-dye pattern tile or vinyl flooring; all I kept coming up with was how to get tie-dye OUT of a floor not INTO it.)

  5. Just thought of R.E.M. singing "That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight…"

    Lava lamps and psychedelic art, just wondering what will coming next. 😉

  6. Oh yeah, tie-dye stuff was great and you still see T-shirts on people of all ages. I wonder what it is about the colorful psychedelic patterns that continue to connect with so many of us. It can't be purely nostalgia!

Share your thoughts and experiences. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.