Minnesota Original


Revolver and Futurekave

Literary arts organization Revolver push the envelope with their offbeat writing endeavors. Milliner Karen Morris makes beautifully intricate hats. Sarah Beth Ernhart's portraits capture the personalities of her clients four-legged friends. Chuck Olsen and Taylor Carik created Futurekave--an interactive video-game-art-piece hybrid that bridges virtual and physical space.

AIRED: March 28, 2015 | 0:26:46

[drums, horns, guitar and bass play R&B jazz]

[music only; no vocals]

(male narrator; British accent) We now interrupt "Minnesota Original"

to bring you a very special tale.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

We needed something important; we needed something big.

We hope people connect to hope,

you open something up for them or in them...

It didn't go well. Um...

You know, "failure's" the word that comes to mind.

(narrator) In the spring of 2014,

Revolver's rising star, seemingly unstoppable,

led the Revolver editors, ragtag group of misfits,

journey persons, and libertines that they were,

to believe it might continue forever.

After their much-lauded event,

"Revolver at the Ritz: 12 Experiments,"

Revolver found themselves casting about

for a grander idea, a scheme that would not only

solidify their reputation, but ensure their posterity.

But possessed by their own sense of genius,

enthralled to a fascination for the occult and macabre,

they would fail in a most spectacular fashion.

[whispering] Is this the spot?

[utters a purring sound]

(Luke) How many times do I have to tell you,

we don't have secret meetings.

(Marcus) Welcome to the meeting.

(Ross) It's good to be here.

So I mean, it seemed like, it seemed like a good idea

to do a fictional failure on "Minnesota Original."

We came up with these sort of crazy ideas

that Revolver broke up and now 5 years later

"MN Original" asked us to come back together.

They're going to bring the band back together.

Find out what Revolver's really about.

Yeah, kind of a "Behind the Music" thing.

(Lara) The British narrator was like supposed to, make fun of...

(Luke) "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." (Lara) Exactly.

But Marcus wrote another script, a totally different script.

It was true to life, it was, it was,

maybe hit a little close to home, I think a lot of people

didn't want to be portrayed like they really were, so it really...

Oh! [laughter]

(Ross) Pretty close to the bone.

(Lara) I mean Ross was like, punching someone in the face

in this script, like every single...

And I was a street fighter, so...

(Alexander) And I think I was in a straightjacket.

(Luke) Yeah you were in a straightjacket torturing yourself.

Yeah, nothing new.


You know, we thought if we would tell the story, through a story.

Yeah. But it just totally...

(Ross) Failed? It totally failed.

I can't believe we thought we would actually agree on fiction.

We can't even fail right.

[all laugh]

(male narrator; British accent) Bang, pow, wallop, Revolver began in a boxing gym.

There, a crowd of 700 gathered

to witness a most peculiar beginning.

Two men and two women, trained by the world-class coaches

at Uppercut Boxing Gym, duked it out

amongst the Twin Cities literati,

hopped up on booze. Why?

Because writing is fighting... apparently.

Or so their heavy-handed metaphor attempted to imply.

Subtlety was never one of Revolver's aims, however,

and the event was a huge success.

The world was with them, it seemed, and the world was drunk.

(Marcus) So actually our birthday was two days ago, right?

(all) Yeah, happy birthday!

(Ross) Yeah, happy birthday. And we're, you know...

[laughter] (Lara) Yeah.

Like so we, you know we spent like a lot of time on this

and we had planned it all out, we had had a lotta beers.

And we've been talking about why did we fail?

I think it, I mean, at least for me, it feels weird

for Revolver to be celebrated because in a lot of ways

what we do is celebrating other people. So how do we...?

(Ross) We have a weird way of showing it.

Yeah, we have a weird way of showing it, but it's...

Is actually what we're doing celebrating them, is it,

like is "celebration" the word, you know, are we pushing them?

I think putting them in painful situations.

(Lara) Like putting their hands on burners. (man) That's art.

We've been taking writers out of their comfort zone.

We put 'em out of their comfort zone

and making them write their way out of it.

It's celebration, but it's not

like celebration with like the carrot. Right?

It's like we're not like sort of... it's the stick.

Right, it's the whip.

We use the carrot like a stick.

(Alexander) Yeah, that's actually great, you know?

(Ross) I don't know what we're talking about! [laughter]

It's one thing to entice somebody with an idea,

but then to beat them on the head with it and say get going! You know?

Yeah, they're like the leading is also part of the whipping.

Like speak, speak quietly and carry a big carrot.

[all laugh]

[piano, bass, and horns play '40s-style detective movie theme music]

We give writers assignments that we all wished we got in college,

but never did, trying to do away with the fear of the blank page.

We give them a space where they can mess up.

They know that there's someone there that's gonna,

that's going to help them experiment.

People have sort of come out and done these

really wild things for us,

I mean, you know poor Nicky Tiso,

I body-slammed him on stage.

We don't want it to be this serious thing.

Life or death.

I wouldn't say it's just fun.

Like we kind of modulate between or moderate between

having it be serious but not stuffy, and fun but not silly.

(Luke) There's a weight to it.

You can have reverence and... (Ross) Irreverence?

Irreverence at the same time.

We're all about going to church and then,

and then setting the church on fire!

[laughter] (Lara) No, no.

(male narrator; British accent) Perhaps to absolve their apparent

full-hearted endorsement of the garish violence

Americans seem to love, Revolver staged "Confess,"

a bizarre storytelling art event.

Attendants were encouraged to absolve their deepest sins

by confessing them to an attorney-turned-artist.

"Write Fight" returned Revolver to its lurid ways.

Northern Spark goers watched writers typewrite

in a head-to-head death match

while Revolver distracted them with food, noise, and the crowd.

November of 2013 brought their second print edition

and some glowing press.

They were irreverent, they were revered.

(Luke) But I mean, I think the question is like

what would an actual failure look like?

I mean, like a real failure for Revolver.

(Lara) Liver failure.

(Ross, laughing) Yeah, that's probably more likely actually!

I was thinking about it and I was thinking like that we do like a poetry reading.

That we just did, that we just did...

(Alexander) Well, it's safe. It's safe.

(Lara) You know exactly what's going to happen.

(Thorward) Exactly. I think we position ourselves

where if you fail it's spectacular.

(Luke) Like fail big. Fail big, yeah.

But at the end of the day one thing that I'm happy about

is that we, we make people examine their creative process

because I don't want to, I, like I get in my rut

and it, you know, you gotta, you gotta figure out a way out.

I think, I think we really help people.

(Marcus) Did you ever figure out a way out?

No. [laughter]

I don't have Revolver for me.

I need Revolver! [laughter]

I think it's okay to be in a rut forever.

I mean, one man's rut is another man's...

(Ross) Ditch? [laughter]


One man's rut is another man's water slide! [laughter]

Is there some way to bring a water slide

into some sort of like, literary... (Ross) Oh my god, we gotta do that!

Now this is actual, like

what we really need to consider in the future is it gets

harder and harder for me to get us insurance for these events.

Like at some point,

we just gotta cut that line and just free climb.

(male narrator; British accent) Into we our only forests.

Into we the only lanterns in the trees.

Revolver had evolved into a bright catalyst

for the writing community,

but the failure of Revolver on "Minnesota Original"

was not an unexpected outcome.

This ragtag group of hooligans

has produced a myriad of shenanigans,

all risky and all audacious.

It transgressed the boundaries of what literature is

and pointed towards possibilities.

So, so, I mean, so how do we do this "Minnesota Original"?

And I think it's this. You know?

It's just us talking through like... (Lara) Just a meeting?

(Luke) Just a meeting. (Lara) Just a meeting.

Will it be a secret meeting?

Why don't we just use this?

(all) Okay. Yeah. I think that's a...

I think we're good. I like that yeah.

Why don't we just use this?

(all) Why don't we just use this?

Why don't we just use this?!

[laughter] Why does everybody look scared, you all look scared.


That echo was so menacing!

It's like being so happy that I'm just like...

[bass, guitar, & vibraphone play rhythmic cool jazz]

(Karen Morris; Chinese accent) I was born in Hong Kong, and since I was three,

I loved fashion because Hong Kong is British Colony.

We have a lot of horse racing over there.

And the ladies all wear the big hats

and fun hats just like in England.

And since then, I want to create my own hat.

I start making hats about 5 years ago.

I went to Australia, Britain,

to find some mentors to teach me about the millinery.

So from traditional technique to unconventional technique,

I usually have 2 collections per year,

spring-summer and fall-winter.

And my style is

a little bit small and elegant

and simple... simple is good!

[autoharp plays in bright rhythm]

When I make the hat, first of all I will have the theme.

So what kind of hat I will make, and also what for?

And then I will choose,

depends on-- I want elegant, I want a lot of feather,

or I want just simple,

so just bind those components together to make a hat.

So how I can make my hats simple?

I focus on the hat shape instead of all the trimming.

Right now I'm using the straw fabric,

is a flat fabric called Sinamay.

This shape is one of my favorite.

I brought it from England and Kate Middleton

got a few hats with this shape,

so I just love it.

I have, I think, 150 hat blocks, including the crown,

cutter hat block or the brim.

Most of my hat blocks is a kind of vintage '20 or '30 style

they have been using for so many years.

A lot of milliners will ask their hat block maker

to make custom-make hat block for them.

This one is really cute, and when I saw it,

I just feel like, wow! It's just so different!

So right now I'm thinking to make a hat,

maybe like this way or this way.

So I'm going to make this hat for my upcoming show,

fashion show in England.

Most of the time I have a lot of projects going on in the same time.

But right now I'm working for the 2015 spring-summer

for upcoming England show

and then also upcoming Knowle Cole fashion show.

[piano, percussion, & bass play in bright rhythm]

This hat is my favorite,

and this is little top hat.

And I love this top hat because it's very classy, and it's fun.

This shape is very popular in England,

especially all the royal ladies

like to have something beret or pillbox. Fun.

This is a very special material,

which is only found in Philippines,

and this is straw with silk width.

I source all the materials from all over the world,

like in England, Australia, and Philippines.

[acoustic guitar & melodica play in bright rhythm]

I pay attention all the details and the materials what I use,

I will use silk, more exotic fabric

and each stitch I hand-sew very carefully.

This is very detailed process to make me different!

Most of time after I finish a hat, I feel very excited

because sometimes some hats just not turn out right. You know?

But sometimes the hat turn out more amazing than I thought,

so I will be very excited and try

and sometime I just, oh, maybe I keep it for myself! [laughs]

[drums, bass, and strings play in bright rhythm]

RAW is a fashion association or event in Minneapolis.

They have all kind of fashion show all around the world,

and they especially feature all the local artists in the show.

So I will be featured with another hat designer.

I will show all the 2014 spring-summer collection.

The makeup is a bit more colorful this time.

My plan for the makeup to make more dramatic

because my collection is pretty colorful this year.

It can be very crazy.

We need to set up all the models--

hair, makeup, show her how to walk--

that just, maybe 5 hours just gone like that.

It is very stressful at the very beginning.

But after your models go out on the runway show on the catwalk

and you're just so excited, all, all different things,

all stress, just gone.

[percussion & synthesizer play]

My hats have been shown internationally.

in England, in Singapore,

and also in "Elle" magazine in Hong Kong and here locally.

I come from different background, you know,

and then finally I reach my goal from my childhood,

so it's just amazing for me to be a fashion designer.


[bass & drums play jazz]

(Sarah Beth) I usually say that my work is fun and modern,

it's very bright and colorful

and I feel like it's very real, very honest.

I really try to capture the personality

and spirit of my subjects.

♪ ♪

I never set out to be a pet photographer.

I came about it very organically.

I've always been an animal lover

and I went to school for graphic design and through that job

I kind of got into photography professionally

and I started photographing kids and families and weddings

and discovered that wasn't really for me.

So I started volunteering with some pet rescues

and that got me involved with other pet businesses,

and it grew from there.

It was a part-time thing, and now it's full time, and I love it.

Puppy do you want to have a treat?

[click! click!]

[squeaking; click!]

See if he'll shake for ya.

[shutter clicks]

Coming into the studio is a very strange experience

for a lot of animals, and they do tend

to be kind of excitable or nervous.

Just kind of having a routine helps

keep the sessions going smoothly.

And animals is on a much different communication level.

They're not always going to do what you want them to do.

[drums & trombone play bouncy circus theme music]

♪ ♪

[cat meows, then growls]

(woman) Isabel, be nice.

You gonna go see Gizmo?

Gizmo's her best buddy.

And Gizmo and Uncle Steve, all your friends.

[in playful voice] Yeah, go meet Uncle Steve.

(Sarah Beth) I love my clients' relationships with their pets.

Their pets are their children in a sense

and it's such a sweet and a very short-lived relationship,

which I think makes them embrace it a little more

because they know they only have a short amount of time.

And a big part of what I do is end-of-life photography sessions

for terminally ill and elderly pets.

Just seeing the relationships that these people have had,

it's, the best part of what I do is really

the owners and the interacting and hearing

about all of their wonderful experiences with their pets.

We did a photo shoot, I think like 5 years ago,

and it was in the fall I remember,

'cause then we did our Christmas cards.

Our pets are our kids basically.

I mean, we don't have children,

we love them, they're a huge part of our lives.

It seems like it would be unnatural to me

not to have professional photography of our animals.

[shutter clicks]

(woman) Good boy!

♪ ♪

[shutter clicks]

(Sarah Beth) Sometimes I think about what I do, and I just have to laugh

because I, this is what I do, I photograph pets.

So many people that I meet are like, oh my gosh,

you have my dream job, I would love to do this.

I think from the outside people think that it's really

just playing with animals all the time and it's so much work,

but the hour that I get to spend with some amazing animal,

makes all the rest of it totally worth it, and I don't know,

I can't imagine doing anything else.

[electronic music plays]

(Chuck Olsen) We really like the connection

between virtual reality and our physical reality

and trying to like enhance that connection.

For most of us, our digital experience is,

you know, just staring into a phone

and you're withdrawing from the world.

And we wanted to make an experience that was

a digital experience that was really like social and fun

and actually used your body.

(Taylor Carik) We're really interested in the bridging of actual space

and the virtual space that we're creating.

I'm Chuck Olsen and this is Taylor Carik

and we came up with Futurekave.

Futurekave is an in-person social game experience.

It's a piece of software, it's a video game, it's an art piece,

and we're continually evolving it.

Vidtiger is our organization; we're all about

art technology and social good.

A lot of the most exciting projects that we see in the world are

kind of mixing art and technology

and so Futurekave was, was our chance to,

to see how this stuff worked, to learn about it,

and just create a really interesting experience

for Art-A-Whirl actually here at Solar Arts.

The key piece of Futurekave is that it uses a depth camera.

It's the Kinect which you get with your Xbox.

The cool thing about a Kinect as a piece of technology

is it's a camera that sees that you're a human being.

It's like, I see that you're a human and you have a human body

and that you have arms and a head and legs.

So we're using that information and kind of hooking it up

with a video game engine called Unity.

And that's a 3-D environment

where like really anything is possible.

So someone walks up to a wall-sized screen

and on that screen we have a sort of like a space scene

with a planet that's rotating in the middle of space.

And as people walk up to it,

little rocklike avatars with arms are created.

They're floating over the planet.

And those avatars are mimicking the movements of the people

who are in front of the screen, raising their arms,

lowering their arms, bumping into each other.

It's triggering things on the planet,

whether it's sculpting into the planet,

or raising the surface of the planet or creating crystals.

(Chuck) So the planet is like a collaborative sculpture,

becoming a product of the player's social interactions.

So it's like unique to how people have moved their bodies,

and you know, bumped into each other.

The initial theme of Futurekave was that you're a moon colonist

getting a second chance and bringing a planet back to life.

So we're starting with a barren planet and rebuilding civilization.

I actually want people to think about our planet

and things like that too.

Show like one person or two people,

it's actually kind of a meditative experience.

It's kind of haunting and spacy and it does draw you in

and then it changes the more people you have, you know,

and if you have a crowd of people in front of it,

it gets really crazy and people

kind of, I think get more amped up.

So it's fun seeing that range of kind of like a solitary,

meditative experience, all the way to this crazy crystal party.

I want people to sort of feel the sense of like wonder and possibility,

like oh, I can affect this world.

The other thing for me is, I thought it'd be great

if people would get super disoriented,

maybe a little uncomfortable.

You wanted your mom, you wanted your mom to like, say

this is too freaky, I gotta, I gotta run out of the room.

To me that would be an enjoyable experience for me. [Chuck laughs]

I think it does show the potential for interactive art

and what a visceral experience that is.

I mean, I think virtual reality is a new medium

and we're exploring that and kind of exploring how,

how do we relate to this medium,

how is it going to affect society,

how we relate to each other?

I mean, I think sort of all the questions

that you might explore with art

are completely valid here.

3-D is not just for video games;

it's really a whole new realm.

So I mean, it's

a whole new world of art.

CC--Armour Captioning & TPT

(woman) This program is made possible by

The State's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

and the citizens of Minnesota.

[orchestral fanfare]


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