One Tank Trip

One Tank Trip: Antenna for the Race

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Winter break no more. Students are back on campus and back to the Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery at Kutztown University, but as the sign says, part of it is still closed. Behind the doors, there's a work in progress.

Three days in, there's a rough wooden structure up in the center of the gallery, with big arches as the entryway.

The exhibit opens in three weeks. When it's finished, media will be embedded on the inside, saturating visitors through sight and sound.

KU musicians are working with an artist on the score you'll hear when you step inside.

"We came up with this idea for the project, and it's called 'Antennae for the Race,'" explained Justin Randolph Thompson, an artist in residence.

You'll be able to immerse yourself in the project. It will be all around you, offering something for each of your senses. The title is a quote by Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor and philosopher who's known for predicting the internet almost 30 years before it was invented.

When he talks about "Antennae for the Race," this idea that artists are prognosticators, he's citing poet Ezra Pound, who long ago declared artists feel what is coming before the rest of us.

"The idea is that artists are sort of like a radar, or an early warning system, that tells society what's about to happen and whether we have an obligation to certain social discourse, and specifically, in the realm of any work that's being made by African American artists," Thompson said. "African American artists are expected to always talk about social issues, no matter what their work is, and whether their work talks about social issues or not, it's always read into their work."

You can explore the topic and really anything inside the space. It's art that's open for discussion. Since it's a site-specific art installation for a Pennsylvania location, the subject of media again made sense.

This is where cable TV was born when, in 1948, John Walson needed a way to get a better signal for the TVs he was selling out of his appliance shop in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County. Running some cables from an antenna to his TVs worked.

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