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FASTBALL
15 May 2016
By Lee Walton
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The Art of Sport, (4 Projects), 2012

CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY

 

Curated by Craig Smith and funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Art of Sport was an international exhibition that featured a range of artworks addressing the hype, criticism, design, and process of both amateur and professional sports.

 

For this exhibition, I contributed 4 distinct projects. The first contribution was a screening of my early social media marathon performance One Shot a Day in 2003. This 5-hour video documents my progress as I played 18-holes of golf, taking only 1 shot per day. This early experimentation in “vlogging” took 5 months to complete. In addition, I created 3 new projects for the exhibition.

 

Fastball was an interactive installation in which gallery visitors experienced the power and violence of a major-league fastball. To do this, I installed a professional pitching machine in the gallery space, fed with major league hard balls. Visitors would feed the pitching machine and shoot a 90mph fastball across the exhibition space. Over the course of hundreds of fastballs, the gallery wall became a crumbling heap of drywall, with a ball eventually breaking out of the space and breaching the outside world. Participants were willfully complicit in destroying the institution’s interior architecture while creating the spectacle.

 

Fastball brought awareness to the challenges professional baseball players face when standing in the batter’s box. The physical violence of a hardball at this speed is often unquestioned by fans, many of whom are watching the game on television.

 

Fastball took direct influence from Chris Burden’s installation Samson (1985), which consisted of a 100-ton jack connected to a gearbox and a turnstile that pushed 2 large timbers against the walls of the gallery. Each visitor to the exhibition would pass through the turnstile and expand the jack, incrementally destroying the building. 

 

This work also derived from my own personal experience playing very high-level competitive baseball. Experiencing the power and force a 90mph fastball has changed my understanding as a fan and reverence for the athletes who play the game.

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