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A Case of the Chickens Coming Home to Joust

November 04, 2001|MARA SCHWARTZ

You may associate "hunt and peck" with your keyboard, but "Cockfight Arena" by the Chinatown art cooperative known as C-Level could give the term a new dimension. Slated for Nov. 10 in the tech-savvy group's basement studio, the performance piece is described by member Mark Allen as somewhere between a real-life illicit cockfight and the pixilated images of riders on ostriches in '80s video-arcade fave Joust. "Cockfight Arena's" gladiators, however, will be bird-costumed audience volunteers fitted with giant wings and mock-wired to digital counterparts on a monitor. When live cockfighters pair off for a match, digital jousters flap their wings or peck their opponents only if their costumed "guides" execute the move onstage.

Don't expect wacky yellow-feathered football mascots, however. "We're playing off a noir aesthetic," says C-Level's Eddo Stern of the "semi-rigid" costumes. "It's gonna be this steamy atmosphere, with stuff flying around. We're working with all sorts of myths that float in people's heads about Chinatown, Los Angeles, a basement."

The 10-member "art lab" of programmers, designers, videographers, costumers and writers joined forces about a year ago to pool resources for art projects. Past undertakings include the "Tekken Torture Tournament," where video gamesters received an electric shock when their onscreen doppelgangers took a hit. For the cockfighting event, members will write software, round up volunteers, design and sew costumes and document the enterprise on video. "Technology is this intensely disembodying experience," explains Allen. "I spend the whole day sending e-mails, and my mental space has no relationship to where I physically am. This is about bringing a physical relationship to the process."

*

"Cockfight Arena," Nov. 10, C-Level, (213) 617-0978.

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