Permutatude: Adjust to the Great Evolutionary Forces of Change or Be Destroyed in the Upheavals is a conceptual project with multiple components, the most significant of which is a theory on the evolution of attitude through the impact of technology, made most visible in televised and photographed massing events. Additional components of the work were the installation of a 500-page documentary text, including a textual version of the theory written after the fall of the Berlin Wall and a diary written in response (and simultaneously) to the media coverage of the first Gulf War (1990) as well as two filmed sessions of massing events, the first shot during the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the second, ‘Operation Welcome Home,’ event in New York at the end of the first Gulf War.
In 1996, over the course of the year, Nalls tracked massing events around the world through the global media, gathering information for this large-scale social hypothesis. Principles and ideas of Permutatude Theory laid the groundwork for World Sensorium and Nalls’’s work in progress, The Aesthetics of Mass Anatomy.
A sculpted word.
PERMUTATUDE: Per-mu-ta-tude (per-myoot-e-tood): a world capable of being changed; a transformation or rapid evolution of attitude of individuals on a large scale, allowing a reordering to take place; revolt by the once silent masses against constituted authority; majority will; a sudden necessary modification in the global community permitting rapid change to take place. Exercise of authority by the masses, the natural instincts of democracy.
The most important aspect of Permutatude is massing in the age of image and information technologies. It is evolving the traditional human cannon of beauty from the individual as a symbol for all humanity to the beauty of mass anatomy, the massing of the multitude empowering and determining the individual. The whole will determine its parts.
Permutatude Study, 1989-1991
Twelve 19” monitors
Installation view: Staib Gallery, New York, in 1992.
Still from Permutatude Study, Mounting the
Berlin Wall, 1989
This was the crowd at the moment when the East Berlin guards stepped down. This was the moment of the inspiration for the formula of World Sensorium.
Gayil Nalls, December 28, 1989:
The day released freedom like an undammed river flowing to the ocean as it filled with the enormous celebration of a revolution. It was clear to me that I was living in a time when the evolving social organism, the sea of humanity of which we are all a part, and become molten, open to an unprecedented expansion of consciousness and change, and the half-a-million gathered at the Brandenburg Gate were but one indication. Special messages passed through the nerves of the hands of the masses, as one person after another was pulled onto the top of the wall. The body understands what our sight cannot see.