Harvesting Profit    December 2000-April 2001
Online and at the Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA
(©2001 Lisa Dale Miller, photography by James Dewrance, all rights reserved)

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“Once upon a time” may seem like the beginning of a fairy tale, but the truth is there are many locales around America, including Silicon Valley, where people use these words on a regular basis to describe  what their town “used to be like.” Silicon Valley has changed rapidly over the last 50 years from the richest orchard-growing region in  America, to an industrial/military economy, to our present-day distinction as the home of the “virtual e-conomy”. Many who live here can attest  to the fact that what used to be sentimental reminiscences about the  area, have recently turned to desperate admonitions of a failure to contain growth and stem the tidal wave of greed that plagued Silicon Valley.

Harvesting Profit enabled the Silicon Valley community to express their feelings through an interactive web site which functioned as an upload mechanism for commentary on the changes in Silicon Valley over the last 50 years. Visitors commented on any or all of the following seven categories: orchard stories, startup stories, land use issues, bring back, get rid of, housing and congestion. All comments were collected and used in the multimedia portion of Harvesting Profit. The physical part of this installation took the form of a ghostlike abandoned orchard. Each tree had a small monitor which  displayed “video collages” of comments gathered from the web site, portions of interviews I conducted with the last few remaining orchard families in Santa Clara County, Global Community Foundation, and several private citizens. One of the videos featured a history of the computer industry focusing on groundwater contamination sites and another on venture funding issues. The installation soundscape was a mixture of voice recordings of all the written comments that came into the site and the sounds of walking through the last remaining orchards in Santa Clara County. These five 50-year old French Prune trees were taken from the Saratoga Heritage Orchard in February 2001. All of these trees were slated for removal due to disease/age and were replaced with healthy new specimens. This work is part of the Heritage Orchard Restoration Project recently begun by the City of Saratoga. Were it not for the hard work of the citizens of Saratoga who spoke out last year in an effort to save the Heritage Orchard, this awe-inspiring living reminder of the past would have been destroyed and replaced with a new soccer field.


Millennial Burn Part II   November 19 – December 31, 1999
Museum of Art and History Santa Cruz, CA
(©1999 Lisa Dale Miller, photography by James Dewrance, all rights reserved)

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In the Millennial Burn Part II, I installed the ashes from the Millennial Burn Part 1 Performance in the museum. This area featured a sound artwork which asked viewers what action they could take to end fear, hate, greed, ignorance, and violence; the five things most often cited for banishment in Part I (see below). Viewers then moved to a water ritual area, where they thought this action into water. On New Years Eve 1999, I produced the Millennial Burn Part II Video/Performance during which I was buried in the ashes and then had these ashes washed from my body using the ritual water as a purification for our entrance into the new millennium. You can listen to the Millennial Burn Part II Performance sound artwork.

Millennial Burn Part I   July 9 – September 26, 1999
Online and at the Museum of Art and History Santa Cruz, CA
(©1999 Lisa Dale Miller, photography by James Dewrance, all rights reserved)

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Millennial Burn Parts I & II were exhibited in 1999. These installations existed simultaneously on the Internet and at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, CA. Both parts featured a sound artwork and an interactive component. The Millennial Burn Part I sound artwork asked viewers to decide what one thing they would like to see banished from our world in the new millennium. Once decided, viewers wrote down or emailed this information. Part I ended with a performance artwork where I burned the thousands of contributions we received as a ritual release. This installation allowed me to understand how different a viewer’s experience of the same artwork can be when they view it in real space as opposed to on a computer monitor with sound.

Endangered Species Installation   April – May 1997
Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA
(©1997 Lisa Dale Miller, photography by James Dewrance, all rights reserved)

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This installation was an outgrowth of a series of works on paper I created in 1995. Nineteen 10ft x 4ft paintings on mylar were hung to create pathways for viewers to stroll through the piece. The viewers themselves became the endangered species in this 3-dimensional drawing. Images of war, religion, pollution and intolerance were juxtaposed with quotations from the Tao Te Ching that suggested solutions to the problems that currently plague our world.

No Woman’s Land Part II Installation   April – May 1993
Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka Japan
(©1993 Lisa Dale Miller, All rights reserved)

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No Woman’s Land Part II installation challenged the accepted notions that Japanese culture is unlike any other and that women have never at any time in Japanese history been held in high esteem. I juxtaposed 15ft paintings of figurines from Neolithic (Jomon period) Japan and Goddess figurines from Neolithic European and Middle Eastern cultures. The similarities between these objects were undeniably striking and made for a powerful and controversial statement about accepted Japanese academic interpretations of history.

No Woman’s Land Part I Installation   April – May 1993
Akiyama Gallery  Tokyo, Japan
(©1993 Lisa Dale Miller, All rights reserved)

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This installation focused attention on the consensual silence and general non-participation of modern Japanese women in the decision-making areas of Japanese society. On the walls of the gallery were four paintings on wallpaper each made in the shape of an obi (a long piece of woven fabric wrapped tightly around the waist when wearing a kimono.) Painted on these four obis was a sentence in Japanese that translates in English: This is the sound of Japanese women demanding changes in society, management of corporations and participation in government. The sound in the gallery was silence. I placed these paintings on large sheets of white paper simulating the wrapping paper Japanese women use to store kimonos and obis. On the white paper I spray-painted in Japanese the words gamman shinai (‘patience no more’) in pink, in a repeat pattern design to represent the quiet chorus of discontent. On the back wall of the gallery was a construction called “Lips”. Twenty-four plastic lips were painted in various lipstick colors and then wrapped tightly in barbed wire or a perfectly tied red or white ribbon. Around the perimeter, spray painted in pink was the word “gamman” which means to endure.