Nicholas Petrow


A situational composition with artist collective the 181

Sonically I couldn’t hear any rhythm. Without the luxury of repetition each sound melted into each other. The order between each artist’s chaos was where the rhythm lived. If you looked too hard you would miss it, like the visual feedback produced from a worm hole. It didn’t bring us to a parallel universe, we were very much inside of this one, which I think is easy to forget sometimes. It made me remember, and wonder how many 3D glasses it takes to see the 4th Dimension? It was also the best place I drank a beer in a while.

A litte Q and A

NP:What makes the 181, the 181?

181: Perhaps we could say that we, the 181, we’re being followed. If someone claimed it was a shadow I couldn’t deny it. Oh, and also a millennia of space dust colliding into other space dust, the circle of piss that takes the backbone out of representation and analogous ponderings. The only definitive thing I can say right now is the transition into the 181 always has happened before it was expected.

NP: While at “For Lo Futurity” words did not seem necessary. However, in this context they are, can you describe that night through nonsense?

181: If we assume this in English as the return, space has somehow opened up with that wondering open O: P is farther ahead of N now, it seemingly takes longer to speak the word, and the whole thing anyways presents a reverse of the alphabetical trajectory. Seeing your favorite fork, that fork that you use every time, secured into a soft receptacle quietly comfortable behind the couch.

NP: How do you feel after a composition? Is there overlap between them?

181: After a composition there is a slight feeling of being strung out. Sometimes a red light comes on signaling the presence of a point, but then again I’m reminded of (your) time, or was that a faulty, or other wise dead, relay, a battery node? The overlap between all of us entering a defined space together at a defined point in our space/time is a constant contact.

The unexpected endingness that seems to creep up and surprise is abrupt, and hard to feel as a natural thing. 181 episodic situations don’t end naturally. They end because somebody we hardly know wants to lock up and go home. This is the first time it’s occurred to me that something may be wrong.

NP:You mean you need to find a space with no time limit?

181: Or a time with no space limit

NP: From your own perspective what the fuck is going on right now?

181:Right now an asshole is laying on their horn. I have been watching a trail of ants move through the dust on my floor. If some intentional thought occurs I’ll let you know right away. A resonating bounce always seems in these things of ours.



NP: French Toast or Pancakes?

181: Consider the “would you like soup …or death” skit. Belgian waffles are the shit.

NP: What’s next for the 181?

181: I am hoping what comes next comes sooner than later. The motive is a difficult thing to establish because there are numbers of unresolved points of depature. When the moment comes to an end, it doesn’t ever cross my mind what happens to everything next.

And therefore time?


The above was a response to the one-night performance by The 181 on May 29, 2015, at NOVELLA Gallery, 164 Orchard Street, New York. Below is the press release announcing the performance. 

As a collective the 181 is interested in creating visual and performance architectures out of the sample merging and strangely hybridized “what ifs” of information transmissions and material demonstrations. Artists, a physicist/electronic engineer/musician, a mushroom forager/rockhound, and a linotype operator—any attempts to formalize their practice they view with distress.

Or to put it another way:

Imperfect approximations of the universe as a whole. Repercussing perforations in this, the permeable present. In such situations you become very aware when something shifts or changes because there is an echo and a stutter. The existential architecture thus created seems a space dominated by moving mirrors of various sizes, shapes, and velocities—a circling cycling revisioning architecture.  It is well-known that symmetry on a plane suggests volume to the mind, but we are nevertheless surprised that even the oddest, unnatural, un-anticipatable symmetries communicate volume. We postulate that an existential volume is equivalent to its echoes.

One time Tom was explaining to us the difference between general and special relativity, and we understood him to say that curvature can be described without extra dimensions, but you need a special language. The question becomes, does the possibility of higher dimensions translate into probability?

Formed in 2007 near a winter trash channel that is annually carved through the beach in order to carry debris from the streets of Venice Beach, California to the sea, the 181 has composed situations around the world. These include most recently: “Instruments of Observation” at the 2014 Slingshot Festival of Music, Art and Tech in Athens, Georgia; 2013 appearances at High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA; Art&Science in New York City; and Live Performers Meeting XIII in Rome, Italy; and “the 2012 creation” of “Circles of Commotion and Moving Pauses” at the SPACE Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA and “Swing Song Centripetal” as part of Cose Cosmiche at Galleria Artra, Milan, Italy. Other projects have included: “The Like of This Bell” at the National Center for Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg, Russia; “Remembrances Awakened” at the Stockholm Fringe Festival, Stockholm, Sweden; “Oh I Think I Know Where the Green Ray Goes” at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA; and “Sonorous Silence (Hi Ho Andrei Rublev)” as part of the Embassy Annuale, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edited by Merve Ünsal

The 181 is Brandon Boan, Abby Donovan, Tom Hughes, and Jason Rhodes with special guests Aaron K. Hoffer, Joe Netta, Mike Roch.

Nicholas Petrow is a multi-media artist from Massachusetts. Currently he lives and works in LA.