Over the past several days, Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Rönkkö and Luke Turner have been flummoxing their followers on Twitter by cryptically tweeting seemingly useless GPS coordinates. People have offered guesses as to what they're up to, or simply scratched their heads. Some have even plugged the coordinates into Google Earth in order to make some sense of the series of tweets. Why, in fact, are LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner tweeting the location of a desolate dirt road? "He's telling us where the bodies are buried," one follower offered. "Start tweeting words," others demanded.
If you follow the collective's exploits (and, honestly, even if you don't), you likely know that three take the internet by storm every few months or so with a new and engaging performance-art project. Usually named after a hashtag, in the past they have famously livestreamed LaBeouf watching all his movies in the aptly titled project #ALLMYMOVIES, taken phone calls from strangers in #TOUCHMYSOUL, and sat silently behind a desk at LA's Cohen gallery and let people interact with him for #IAMSORRY. Monday sees the beginning of the trio's latest project, #TAKEMEANYWHERE, which they call their most expansive and intimate to date. And, as you may have already guessed, it's what those GPS coordinates are all about. For the next 30 days, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner will hitchhike using the internet. They'll do this by tweeting GPS coordinates and the #TAKEMEANYWHERE hashtag via the project's twitter, @thecampaignbook. Once the coordinates are tweeted, they'll wait for a ride (car, train, bus, bike, or piggyback) at that spot, and whoever picks them up first will be able to take the three collaborators wherever they choose. Where they spend their next 30 days will be left to the sole discretion of those engaging with the project and whoever can get to them the fastest. The route will be tracked in real time on takemeanywhere.vice.com, and on the way, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner will be posting photos of the folks shepherding them along. The three will also be documenting the many places they visit and people they'll meet in a film that will be on display at the Finnish Institute in London and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, institutional collaborators on the performance. VICE sat down to chat with LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner in a remote cabin nestled deep in the middle of the Rocky Mountains the day before they were to begin their journey.
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook)May 16, 2016
VICE: How would you describe this place?
Luke Turner: It's a strange cabin with dead animals.
Shia LaBeouf: It's not that strange.
Turner: It has a pump organ, a honky tonk piano…
Nastja Rönkkö: And a dead cat called Brian on the wall.
VICE: There's a buffalo and a deer and a moose.
*LaBeouf:* And a birth basket.
VICE: So why are you guys here in Colorado?
LaBeouf: We were invited to be a part of MediaLive, this festival happens at BMoCA [Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art] once a year—this is the fifth iteration of it. They invited us, along with the Finnish Institute in London. They were really nice to us, which is always cool—to get a chance to work with people who believe in you, and you believe in. Feels good. I guess we look for that.
Turner: The theme of the festival this year is corruption.
*Rönkkö:* We had this work that we thought might fit in.
Turner: I guess they invited us because our work is, hopefully, combatting corruption. While the networks remain full of problematic hierarchies, at the same time there's this kind of egalitarian, utopian ideal of the internet that remains, and we want to perhaps try to preserve and accentuate that.
LaBeouf: With these projects, we try to retain a naïveté—or that's the goal. The goal is to sorta stay naïve, stay impressionable, stay malleable.
Turner: It's an informed naïveté.
VICE: What is this next project about?
LaBeouf: Making friends.
*Rönkkö:* It's about trust, and also a journey. I'm more interested in the in-between state than arriving at a destination.
Turner: And we're all putting our trust in the collective, in the networks—they're deciding, they're determining what unfolds.
*Rönkkö:* It's about putting our trust in people. And also, people trusting us.
LaBeouf: Hitchhiking is really the ultimate collab.
VICE: Would you call this your Great American Road Trip?
LaBeouf:** In a sense, for sure. There's definitely an Easy Rider kind of nostalgia to it, but there's also a futuristic Blade Runner GPS thing going on.
Rönkkö: Yeah, this whole thing is made possible via the internet, through the networks, and people will have to make a conscious decision to come to us. So it's not the usual scenario of randomly stopping to pick someone up.
VICE: Where does your ambition lie for this project?
LaBeouf:** With everything we do, we're trying to find meaning, make meaning—
Rönkkö: —To connect.
LaBeouf: We don't really know where the show's gonna take us.
*Turner:* It's always an exploration. I think we all view art as an exploration.
Rönkkö: We really don't know what's going to happen.
VICE: Does that scare you?
Rönkkö: Something I've been thinking about is the fact that, in a way, it'll be the smallest show we've done. Because, potentially, we'll have a few dozen people who will actually experience it offline.
LaBeouf:** But it's also super expansive. What's trippy is, it's the most expansive and most intimate thing we've done.
*Turner:* And going back to that idea of the Great American Road Trip, there's always that sense of wanting to escape into the landscape, whereas here we're being tracked the whole time. We're both escaping into it, while becoming more visible than we've ever been. That creates a strange dynamic.
Rönkkö: Because you can't really disappear anymore.
VICE: You're lost, but you're not—because everyone's gonna know where you are at any given moment.
Rönkkö: You're not actually ever lost, you just don't know which direction to go.