P.R.S.S. Press Release

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2003



Minneapolis—Artists Richard Shelton and Piotr Szyhalski have collaborated for the first time to create an interactive installation for the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP). Opening October 10 at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, “P.R.S.S.” is inspired by the artists’ fascination with the radical investigations of John C. Lilly, Stanley Milgram, Kasimir Malevich, and Ivan P. Pavlov. The exhibition deals with essential aspects of contemporary human behavior by reflecting on particular dynamics of learning, perception, moral position, resistance, and the disconnections among us all.

“P.R.S.S.” is an installation composed of four chambers in which the viewer may experience a series of virtual images and sounds and participate in their alteration. It is the artists’ intention that a range of visceral, emotional, and spiritual responses be experienced through a non-linear installation.

“P.R.S.S.” is inspired by the artists’ independent studies: Shelton was fascinated with the neural research of Lilly, a scientist obsessed with dolphins, LSD, and with his own self-inflicted isolation experiments; and with Milgram, who is known for his obedience (shock) experiments, performed after the Nuremberg trials, and for the famous theory that no one is more that six degrees removed from anyone else. Szyhalski focused on the Suprematist painting of Malevich, who stripped his art down to its very essence (a black square), and Pavlov, a scientist famous for his research with the conditioned reflex of dogs. “P.R.S.S.” is not intended to pay homage to these four historical figures, but rather to reflect some of the principles of their work.

Each artist created two of the four chambers. Piotr Szyhalski’s first chamber sets up a situation in which things happen while the viewer holds still. In Szyhalski’s second chamber he sets out to create a pure state of emotion, looking directly at the violence that humans inflict on each other. Richard Shelton’s chambers reference Lilly’s work with dolphins and Milgram’s infamous shock experiments. In his first chamber, a virtual dolphin talks to the viewer, answering to any question it is asked. Shelton’s second chamber alludes to Milgram’s research on human cruelty and obedience.

Shelton and Szyhalski both grew up during the sixties but on opposite sides of the Cold War: Shelton raised in Iowa and Szyhalski in Poland. Both are intrigued and disappointed by the continued post-Cold War polarization of East and West and share many concerns as artists. Both attended art school during the mid-eighties, say they were inundated with the same cannons of art theory, use new technologies to make their art, and now teach at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).

“P.R.S.S.” is presented by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, an artist-managed curatorial department of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts made possible by generous support from the Jerome Foundation.

Related Events An opening reception for “P.R.S.S.” is scheduled for Thursday, October 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. An artist-led public tour will be held on Sunday, October 19, at 3 p.m. A Critics’ Trialogue featuring art critic Andrew Knighton in conversation with the artists and the public will take place in MAEP gallery on Sunday, November 16, at 3 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.