Wendel's Institution : The Live Podcast

Using the podcast as a form of style and storytelling, Michael Eddy presents a performative reading of Wendel’s Institution, a dystopic sci-fi story composed by him and his uncle Alex Kreger, who currently lives in Connecticut. Enhanced by audio effects, ads, and visual references, the reading will be broadcast live on Twitch (twitch.tv), an interactive livestreaming social network popular with gamers and influencers worldwide. For this event on Twitch, Eddy plays the role of the online streamer, and invites viewers to share his imaginings, offer their opinions, and comment on the performance via the chat window, and via calls to be received at the end of the show.

Mixing reality and fiction, Wendel’s Institution begins in a post-neo-conservative America, ruled by a futuristic Communist regime where emotions have replaced money as the main currency. Brazen characters clash and get embroiled in the story, including Harold, the arms dealer conspiring against the State, Matilda, the idealist aristocrat, Colonel Diaz, who works in the intelligence service, “no name,” the mysterious anonymous hacker, Mark Townsend, the mutant obsessed with excessive virility, and of course Wendel, the famous pathologist in charge of preserving the mental health of deposed plutocrats.  

Co-written by email in the years before the last American election, Wendel’s Institution is based on an improvised script, in which each part is more or less consciously inspired by the part received previously and its accompanying comments. Beyond the tumultuous adventures, the reading of this story imagined by Eddy and Kreger is compelling because it exposes some of the intimacy between them. Interspersed with blunt claims and mischievous sarcasm, the narrative reveals the authors’ political leanings, ideological positions, and existential frustrations, creating a framework rife with subtext. As the story progresses, the gap between the two worldviews grows ever wider, often pitting cynicism against hope and imagination against pragmatism.

The conflict, tension, and opposition underlying the framework of Wendel’s Institution set the tone, in a way, for Eddy’s exhibition Je suis, presented at Fonderie Darling. Through this event, the literary and artistic universe contained in the Small Gallery is imported into the virtual world of Twitch, a subculture of millions of users that generates even more millions of dollars and that represents an American society preoccupied with self-performativity and the other’s gaze. Under the watchful eye of web viewers, the online expression of one’s own uniqueness arises from a spellbinding dynamic, in which acts of empowerment, pernicious forms of cyberbullying, fruitful accomplishments, and general apathy coexist.  

Thank you to Simon Grenier-Poirier for sound and audio production.