5 March 2012

You may remember Lawrence Malstaf as the man who vacuum-wrapped visitors at Abandon Normal Devices festival in Manchester 2010 as part of his Shrink installation. People were hung in the gallery space, their position frozen by the tight plastic, making a very impressive site. Dazed Digital met with Malstaf to find out more about him and the thought processes behind Shrink, the interview is definitely worth taking a look at.

Malstaf's artwork exists between the visual and the theatrical creating large environments, which require viewer input to be complete. Sometimes the viewer is so essential, that the piece could not exist with out them and the end result becomes more of a collaboration than anything else. We loved the look of Nemo Observatorium that Malstaf recently displayed one of his piecesat the TransLife International Triennial of New Media Art in Beijing. It is a giant transparent PVC cylinder that visitors are invited to sit in. The cylinder is full of styrofoam particles, which are blown around by strong fans. The whirlwind is fast and immense but the eye of the storm remains still, challenging the visitor to stay centered and calm.

The collaborative nature of his work is definitely true with Compass which will from part of the upcoming Robots and Avatars exhibition at FACT. Malstaf describes the work as "a kind of orientation machine". Visitors to FACT will wear the piece around their waist and through the use of centrifugal force; Compass will direct people around the gallery space. We have been told that it will feel like you are walking through impenetrable yet virtual corridors and rooms. To create the illusion of invisible walls, the belt creates a feeling of attraction or repulsion that can be likened to being in a magnetic field and the visitor can choose whether they want to follow the trail, or resist.

Experience Compass for yourself throughout the Robots and Avatars exhibition, which will be at FACT between 16 March - 27 May.