Survival Research Labs:   Shows:   The Fish Boy's Dream

Aurora Borealis' review of the Fish Boy's Dream

First appeared in RE/Search's Feb 2006 newsletter

SRL (Survival Research Laboratories) staged another triumphant show January 21 in Los Angeles at Susan Joyce's new Fringe Exhibitions gallery. Approximately 1000 people viewed the mayhem. Photos and various reports can be found at Below is our report from our L.A. correspondent, V. Vale's cousin Gail aka Aurore A. Borealis, plus a tiny report from Laurie Steelink.

() "We got there at 4:00 pm and got a great parking space, after the Chinatown shopping crowd and before the dinner crowd, and certainly before the word-of-mouth crowd. We brought and ate something to eat and got ready to start out on an outdoor adventure.

"The gallery wasn't open until 6:00 pm and we were told the performance event would not start until 8:00 pm and would probably last only 15 minutes. And Mark Pauline was "stressed" about tonight's performance and was setting up at the end of the Chung King Road in the parking lot. Chung King Road runs along the top of Chung King Court and isn't a road at all but both are an extension of the old Chinatown "outdoor mall courtyard complex" across the street where the old wishing well-coin fountain-pools have always been. All have deteriorated since their heyday, so the periphery of the old Chinatown "mall" has been revived with the empty spaces now occupied by little art galleries in a row on Chung King Road and Chung King Court, certainly revived with SRL's presence attracting their in-crowd and passers-by.

"When we got to the parking lot, we kept a respectful distance from Mark Pauline and busy crew. The small parking lot is on Hill Street where Hill Street doubles as the off-ramp for the southbound 110 freeway...pedestrians beware crossing the street! The back quarter of the parking lot and performance area was barricaded off by a short plywood wall with an arrow pointing to the left and "Galleries" spray-painted in the middle of the barricade.

"We went back to the gallery before 6:00 pm and in the gallery's small basement watched the riveting Long Horn Speedway film of the SRL performance-event in Austin, Texas, then went back up the basement stairs to the gallery to see the April 2, 2005 film of the SRL performance-event in downtown Los Angeles on the flat screen next to the 5-6 SRL color photo blowups of the same performance.

"When we returned to the parking lot we observed there were no viewing-advantage points. We walked around the block and the balcony of the building on the right side of the parking lot belonged to a church and was closed and locked. The rest of the buildings were old apartments that surrounded the parking lot with apartments on the second floor of the galleries on Chung King Road. (Towards the end of the show, some people ran out on the roof of the second-story apartments above the galleries.) There was open access to an apartment building behind the chain-link fence at the back of the performance. People watched the performance from there, seeing the show backwards--mostly curious residents.

"But just before the performance began, we later discovered, someone trespassed, jumped a not-so-short fence, entered the church's locked grounds and opened the gates (which must not have been locked from the inside) and propped the gates open with small orange traffic cones.

"We could have been in the front row, behind the plywood barricade, but from past experience we chose to watch from across the street from the second floor of the building complex, which also had people viewing from the 3rd and 4th floor level parking lots. We were approximately 100 feet from the performance area, and binoculars helped us see the show from our above-vantage point. Other viewers watched from a dumpster, and stood on a pipe that supported the chain-link fence, as well as a church balcony overlooking the right side of the show. The show itself went over a half hour.

"The metal tower in the center of the performance area had a T-Rex head and "erector set" type arms with front T-Rex hands. The right T-Rex hand held a giant metal wok that started the show with an "Olympic Torch"-like flame before 8:00 pm. Attracting everybody's attention, the Walking Machine with a Nessie-type neck and head came out from hiding behind a 10-foot photo barrier on the left side of the performance area. It approached the audience and walked to the right side of the performance area where the flame thrower and smoking machine on wheels was parked. A square box machine moved about the center of the performance area where we later found two sneaky soldiers we couldn't see from our viewpoint.

"Then in about the middle of the show, the T-Rex head started to droop when the flame thrower-smoking machine moved from the right towards the center of the performance area and torched the T-Rex head with at least 3 huge flames that looked 35 feet long, with 30-foot clouds of smoke that followed. After it was sure T-Rex would disintegrate, the flame thrower-smoking machine retreated back to the right where it had come from, throwing a few good flames in and some more smoke for good measure.

"All along there were loud industrial noises in the background, but then the photo barriers on the left fell down. Hidden behind the barriers the twirling hovercraft machine announced itself with such loud industrial noises that the freeway-off-ramp traffic on Hill Street stopped. I have seen this hovercraft machine before, but this time it seemed to be missing its pontoons that made it look like a hovercraft. But hover it did around the performance area, exploding water bombs with slime and dead sardines on the audience on the right and left, until the flame thrower torched everything for a grand finale to everyone's applause.

"Upon which the barricades were overcome and the audience participated in the smoldering remains of the machines and conclusion of another great, unique show and experience. This true art's gift of free primal scream therapy and a cathartic release gave this spectator a clean sweep with which to start anew the battle of living in the world today. You are too generous, SRL--Thank You's are inadequate--send money, lots of it, is appropriate." -- Aurore A. Borealis

Yes, SRL will definitely need contributions of money to help move from their legendary "shop" (with an estimated 100,000 pieces of inventory) to a new location. Patrons of true art please donate - see the website,

() "Saw the SRL show over the tops of many heads. Unfortunately I couldn't get there early. Parking is a b-tch there, too. Anyhow, what I did see was great and the aftermath was also a sight to behold. Exchanged pleasantries with Mark after the performance and dropped in the gallery space to see the photos. The performance took place in a lot at the end of Chung King Row in Chinatown. There's a number of small galleries back there and some were having openings with oblivious posers crammed in tiny quarters. My experience down there was short and sweet! Best," Laurie Steelink

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