Jim Pallas, Michigan

Briefly, the project consists of releasing three life-size, light weight painted "Hitch Hiking" figures into public spaces on Manhattan. One of the figures will represent a Lenni Lenape Native American woman. This Iroquois tribe occupied "Manna Hatta" Island when the Europeans first arrived. The other two will be Saul Steinberg, visual artist, and Thelonius Monk, musician and composer. I have selected these individuals to honor them as symbols of aspects of the city. Each will have several destinations that celebrate their achievements. Also affixed to each Hitch Hiker's back will be instructions to its self-appointed Carriers for registering and recording their travels and qualifying for a possible monetary reward. The last destination for all is the Macy Gallery, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 W. 120 St. in time of the reception of conference and a large exhibition of artist-made games. The Hitch Hikers will be released to the public a few weeks before the reception. Until they arrive at the gallery, their whereabouts will constantly be revealed via an embedded GPS tracker in each figure which generates markers in a map on a public web page. The idea being that interested persons will follow the itinerary and possibly meet it's current Carrier in order to transport it to one of the destinations. (The project is similar to a very successful one Jim Pallas did in San Jose for their Zero One Festival Zero in 2006.)


Soon, three New Yorkers from the distant and recent past will be returning to the streets of Manhattan to visit their old haunts in a new game called "CARRY ME BACK" designed by artist Jim Pallas. 

 Lenni Lenape, a woman of the Native American tribe that saw Giovanni da Verrazano sail along the coast in 1524, Saul Steinberg, who a drew  "View of the World as Seen From 9th Avenue," and America's answer to Mozart, Thelonious Monk, are all board pieces in a game that will be played out in the streets of New York. 

Columbia University asked Jim Pallas, a pioneer of electronic art, to design a game that would take the action out of the University’s Macy Gallery and onto the city's streets.  The project is a part of Game Show NYC, an exhibit of artist-designed games.

Mr. Pallas came up with an ingenious plan for abandoning light-weight, life size plywood cut-out portraits of these historic figures in public places while motivating passers-by to pick them up and carry them to various destinations that would hold special meaning for each of the figures. 

For instance, one of the six destinations that Thelonius Monk is expected to visit is his former residence on the west side.  Mr. Steinberg will visit one of his inspirational monuments, the Statue of Liberty, and Ms.   Lenape will spend some quiet time in Chelsea Park near the Lenape Edible Garden downtown. 

What would motivate strangers to carry these artworks to these places, then leave them there for someone else to find and carry to another destination? Money.  By doing so, they will qualify for a share in any profits earned from the individual artworks if and when it's sold. 

How will people who want to participate in this peripatetic game find one of these artworks in the vastness of the city?  Each is equipped with a tracker device that reveals its location on a map placed on a public web page (jpallas.com/carrymeback).  On this page, anyone can watch the movement of the pieces as they are carried and left at one of their six destinations.  Anyone can be a player/participant by going to the destination and carrying the piece to another designated destination. 

"I know it sounds crazy," says Pallas, a seventy-year-old artist who has exhibited internationally. "It doesn't seem like it would work, but I've been making and abandoning these "hitch hikers "since 1981. In 2006, I set five of them out, heading for various destinations in the Silicon Valley. One was set out on the east coast at M.I.T. Four made it to their destinations in San Jose and are at the Tech Museum there. One went missing near a pig farm in Iowa."
Pallas says he creates these hitch hikers for the stories they generate. "People are encouraged to take them on little adventures. They have some fun and put them in amusing situations. Send me emails and photos which I post."

Monk, Steinberg and Lenni will be set out  May 14, and their travels can be tracked on the web page. For more info contact Tamika Jackson at (810) 622 0106.  [LINK: mailto:tamika@detroitartworks.org]

Artist Bio

The artworks of Jim Pallas are generally interactive, performing sculptures that depend on a combination of electronic logic and environmental stimulition produce behaviors of movement, sound, light, or other phenomena. He began creating responsive, content-laden kinetic sculpture in the l960's.His pieces utilize a wide variety of materials, include verbal and visual symbolism and often represent creatures or personages.

He has exhibited extensively and received wide recognition and numerous awards. His work has been selected for international awards and exhibitions in France, Austria, Canada, Mexico, and Japan.