RELAY is a project begun in 2019. It consists of a metal track and field relay baton that is printed with information about the project and instructions about how to participate. The intention of RELAY is to have as many people as possible hand the RELAY baton off to others, and to document and share this activity. RELAY is a public art project that you can hold in your hand and broadcast to the world. RELAY belongs to no one and everyone. RELAY has no competitors, only participants. RELAY has no finish line. RELAY is perpetual.
Participate in RELAY by posting your handoff stories, pictures or videos on this website
or on social media on the following sites:
#Relay #Relay Art Project #Relay Art #Relay Michael Galbreth
I was at a track meet and I was struck by the gesture of the relay race athletes as they handed off the baton to each other. For some reason, the momentary action of the relay race handoff seemed different and special.
In a relay race, the baton is an important object. It embodies continuity, and perhaps even unity as the separate runners compete as one, as a singular unit, as a team, with the baton serving as the transfer mechanism that joins these distinct units – the runners – into one motion of speed(1). Care must be taken with the baton, otherwise it may drop, breaking the chain, resulting in failure, a lost race. For the brief time that the baton is handled by the runners, it becomes precious, not for what it is (a chunk of metal), but rather, for its understood and agreed upon function.
I thought to myself, "What if this handoff gesture itself became the focus? What if certain elements of this race system were altered? What if other elements were added, some subtracted, or if certain other aspects were highlighted?" In other words, change the rules of the race completely: Eliminate the competition, but increase the participants, make the "race" endless, perpetual, and so on.
When I thought of it this way, it shifted the context and potential meaning of the relay idea. I thought of the baton handoff abstractly, in terms of its essence, as a communal wand. I thought of the circularity of the track, which suggests the circle, continuance, and even eternity. However, the track is fixed, and the race, having an end, is finite. Then I thought, "What about a race with no running? What about a race that has no end? What about a race that has no direction or prescribed lanes but, rather, goes anywhere? "
I began to fantasize about beginning this "race" by putting the baton out into the world, like a message in a bottle floating out to sea. I imagined the participants taking care about their handoff with considered attention about to whom it will go next. Who will hold it? Where will it go? Will it be "dropped"?
For me, RELAY has all the elements of an art work that interest me: It doesn't look like "art." Anyone may participate. It's collaborative. It operates outside of the art world system with no museums, galleries or arts organization involved. You can hold it. There is nothing to buy or sell. RELAY costs nothing, but it's not without value. RELAY has no message, but it's not without meaning. It is completely experimental with elements of chance and lack of control by me. There is a great potential for failure, or opportunity for success, whatever these may be. There is scale... time... touch... the unknown...
RELAY has a simple and peculiar poetry that I find exceedingly interesting. I wonder what will happen.
July 4, 2019 (Independence Day)
(1) For me, I recognized this as an example of "the one and the many" paradox.