11.12.06 Eames Demetrios, ‘Welcome to Kymaerica’, UPstreet LONDON, 2007


“It’s kind of like writing a novel and hiding each page in a different place,” explains the affable Eames Demetrios of his ever-evolving cross-media project, Kymaerica. At dozens of sites across the US and Canada (and soon Australia, Mexico and the UK), perspectives are broadened and locals confounded by the appearance of permanent plaques commemorating the past events of a fictional parallel world. In formed by the imaginings of Demetrios, grandchild of celebrated product designers Ray and Charles Eames, the fictional Kymaerica is an ongoing large-scale work (or elaborate hoax) that has rapidly picked up momentum over the last five years. The name, a conflation of chimaera and America, plays upon of fantasy and geography.

The Kymaerica “immersive experience”, as Demetrios, self-titled ‘geographer–at large”
Describes it, has involved not only the construction of entire faux-historical sites, published literature and an extensive website, but numerous talks in museums over three continents, including London’s ICA. “The talks slowly weave you into the Kymaerican world.” Says Demetrios. “It is not exactly performance art, a lecture or theatre, but something that draws on all these to transport the audience. I invite dialogue and conversation so each talk is different, and as people want to know more, the rabbit hole gets deeper – and kind of pretty.

His first large-scale work was the “Krblin Jihn Cabin” in Joshua Tree: a derelict hut in the middle of the California desert with a complicated and completely fantastical back history. Revolving around the “Jihn Wranglikans”, a sect of the “Church of the California Christ”, the hut is the physical embodiment of a rambling, nonsensical tale that, when connected dot-to-dot with other sites, comes together as part of a greater (his-)story.

Though Kymaerica’s plaques may combine to form a narrative fiction, their main focus is to examine our reality and question the “inevitable” quality of human history: Marty McFly-like, Kymaerica is a chance to view the world as it might have been. “People take for granted their personal history, and to a larger extent, the history of civilisation,” explains Demetrios. “The brain is intimately woven into vision, and we tend to view our visual environment as inevitable when it is not.”

Demetrios is the first to admit his work is a little wacky “Of course people wonder, “What is this guy on about?” he says. “There can be scepticism or confusion – I mean, the work is a little Crazy – but actually a lot od people enjoy the journey from the get-go. There is a serious element focusing on how we look at the world, but there is also a lot of humour.”

Continuing on the Kymaerican path, Demetrios. A Harvard grad and Director of Eames Office, a company dedicated to the preservation of Ray and Charles’ design and philosophy, is expanding his project from dozens to hundreds of plaques worldwide.

Two makers are being dedicated this month in the US, while three are being finalised internationally, and expensive “historical” sites in the Nevada Desert and Texas are currently under way. At the end of the day it’s a small world – so explore a new one with the first comprehensive Kymaerica travel guide, available early 2007.