The Locksmithing Graduate Institute of the Charlie James Gallery, LA, CA, 2012

On July 21, 2012 I taught the first Graduate Lesson of The Locksmithing Institute in LA at The Charlie James Gallery for the Perform Chinatown event. In this lesson, two students were locked together with handcuffs and isolation boxes of my own construction were placed over their heads. A third student was restrained with handcuffs and was isolated in a darkened face mask. The first two students sat quietly in isolation for five minutes while I guided the third students handcuffs over a high speed grinder. I then taught the first two students how to work together to destroy their handcuffs with a hammer and chisel. In both instances I prostrated myself and was vulnerable to the danger of the tools and debris that were produced by the experience while the students (though helpless and isolated) stood erect and were kept safe from danger as they submitted to the experience. Once the chains of the handcuffs were cut the students had 2 choices: 1. To take on a homework assignment and figure out how to get the shackles off their wrists by themselves, or 2. Enter into a commodity exchange with me and purchase a handcuff key for $5. I would like to thank The Charlie James Gallery for producing this project. Special thanks to Dave Malloure for shooting video and photo documentation. Full lesson plan below:

The Locksmithing Graduate Institute of The Charlie James Gallery
Lesson #12: Unshackle, Part #3: Secure Illusion

The faculty and staff of The Locksmithing Institute are pleased to announce the inauguration of its first Graduate Class. In response to the changing times and the need for more transparency in professional security industry The Locksmithing Graduate Institute will be challenging its students to push the boundaries of their perceived freedoms and to transcend the locksmithing profession.

In lesson #1 and #10 of The Locksmithing Institute students learned about ways to either open handcuffs or subvert the handcuffs authority through examinations of pressure, manipulation, power, action and submission and included lessons in lock picking, bound escape maneuvers, and passive control. In Lesson #12, students will build on these ideas by examining the illusion of security. Though picking locks is a neat trick it represents a small fraction of what a professional locksmith does on a day-to-day basis. In actuality, most locks cannot be picked and must be drilled or destroyed in order to be opened. The best locksmiths can gain access to something with minimal damage to the door or hardware that the lock is in.

Many people imagine that it should be a difficult and delicate procedure to destroy a lock. However, this is not the case. Many of the locks that each of us come in contact with on a day-to-day basis are weak and flimsy. The locking hardware on most doors in the United States is poorly suited to actually keep intruders out. Most modern locks are placed on doors to provide the occupants of location with “sense of security”. These locks are designed to create the illusion of strength and imperviousness but in actuality can be easily defeated. Since the strength and integrity of our security systems is suspect it implies that our personal “sense of security” is tenuous as well. Simply put: our security is an illusion.

Handcuffs are no different than any of our other locks. We have endowed handcuffs with the prestige of authority and the power to restrict our sense of freedom because they can inhibit our ability to move about the world and experience it with our senses (See Lesson #10 for an in-depth discussion of freedom. However, despite this tremendous power we have given them, handcuffs are composed of the same weak materials that our door locks are made from. The faculty and staff of The Locksmithing Graduate Institute hope that by demonstrating the flimsy nature of these restraints that students will begin to re-imagine the world as a more open and fluid place and strip away the veneer that hides their “sense of security.”

Students will first be asked to isolate their heads in full protective gear and then restrain their wrists by locking themselves into standard police issue handcuffs. Next, the instructor will demonstrate two techniques to destroy the chain that binds the handcuffs together (which is the that part of the lock that actually inhibits movement.) The first will require two students to work together to break the chain and the second requires one student to allow the instructor to guide them through the process of destruction. Once the chains are cut students will have 2 choices: 1. To take on a homework assignment and figure out how to get the shackles off their wrists by themselves. 2. Enter into a commodity exchange with the instructor and purchase a handcuff key for $5.

Class begins at 6 PM on Saturday July 21st in LA’s Chinatown district as part of the Perform Chinatown event. Lunch will be vegan-apple-goose-poop-sausage-sandwiches.

The Locksmithing Graduate Institute of The Charlie James Gallery, 2012 | 2013 | Locksmith