Best Gallery Show

David Helm
Automated Dispositions

Many St. Louisans remember the astonishment to be found inside 2000's Wonderland exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum. Installation artists transformed the SLAM's special-exhibition spaces into what seemed to be sets from sci-fi films and other bizarre walk-through experiences. Earlier this year, in the same spirit, artist David Helm utterly transformed the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Gallery 210 into a nightmarish, high-tech home of the future, using TV screens, interactivity and acres of particle board. Helm's Automated Dispositions featured a dining room, living room, den and love seat, all made of mundane particle board, in which gallery visitors could sit and interact. The love seat was a cold parody of the way technology distances us, with video monitors instead of touch joining each person in a couple. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Helm's labor-intensive marvel, though, was the interactive dining room. Four people, each sitting at one of the chairs around a circular table, were instructed to read aloud vapid lines of stereotypical family dinner-table conversation. As gallery-goers found themselves "pretending" to be average humans engaging in ordinary, daily ritual, the effect was hilarious and chilling at the same time.
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