10 Installation Artist Commandments

Update: I have updated our specs to 2″ Gaffer’s Tape. Thanks to Michael Ang for setting me straight.


Ok. I know we are artists. We like to break convention. We thrive in a lifestyle of whimsical freedom, and of subversive thought and behavior. However, much as foreclosures bring down the market value of an entire neighborhood, so is the path of the righteous media artist beset on all sides by the ineptitude of the weak and the tyranny of the unprepared.

It is possible that the responsibility of contextualizing the weight of the human condition, and the cacophony associated with creating endearing public works in an information society, has blinded some of us as to our prime objectives when installing a work for public consumption. It is my hope to alleviate the suffering of both artist and public by defining a set of guidelines for the humble practitioner of the ars technologica, that they may truly shed light upon the path to truth and knowledge. To this end, I write the following recommendations, nay Commandments, binding even the most unassuming of New Media Artists.

1. You will bring a large roll of 2 inch Black Gaffer’s Tape with you to the installation. There is no exception.

2. You will arrive at the setup location on time, ideally early.

3. You will contact the venue you are installing in at least a month prior (if possible) to the installation day, and give them your Tech Rider. You will check with the venue technical manager, or producer, a week prior to make sure it was understood.

4. If possible you will go physically look at the installation location prior to the install, as soon as possible.

5. Your installation will be setup and tested in a separate location prior to the installation day.

6. Take all your wires, make them twice as long.

7. You will bring a power strip with you. There is no exception. Even if it was mentioned on the Tech Rider.

8. All connection points in your installation will be secured with the aforementioned roll of Black Gaffer’s Tape.

9. All cables going to and from computers, micro-controller boards, hardware, etc, will be obscured. Not Visible. Ideally, they should be hidden within the architecture of your installation. Barring this, they will be covered with Black Gaffer’s Tape.

10. Something in your installation or performance setup is going to break, or get lost. You will either have a spare replacement, or know where you can get one in the vicinity.

Bonus commandment: Credit. Your. Programmers.

I’m sure this list will grow. I’m open to suggestions. I think if we all just agree to adhere to a few simple rules, then we can raise the level of water for everyone.

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