How are we bound, rather than freed, by our physics, our society—economically, socially, politically, culturally–and our individual minds? What is the ransom that will free us from that captivity?

ransom n. a price paid for the release of a prisoner; v.t. To redeem from captivity (O.Fr.L. Redemptio, buying back)

corporation n. united body (L. corpus, body)

The Ransom Corp: A body united by the mission to extract the ransoms that free human spirits.

The Captive Audience. For theater, “Ransom” plays on the idea of a “captive audience.” The theater or gallery or carnival is a highly-charged setting and context for discovery, transformation, catharsis and other fruits of heightened awareness. Brought or drawn into this setting, the audience is captive until some resolution or insight has been reached.

A Counteroffensive. We appropriated “Corporation” in order to serve as the antithesis to the darker current vision of corporate greed, hierarchical funneling of power, a bottomline drawn by those at the top, ends before means, the environment as raw material, individuals reduced to customers and life force reduced to work force with all the compromises this entails. We imagined a Corporation dedicated to the remediation and prevention of the damage done to the human spirit by this dark vision and its dehumanizing principles. The main “counteroffensive” strategy is to create the conditions for celebration, creation, collaboration, artistic exploration and experiences that cut through the stale norms of daily life and daily mind.

The main “counteroffensive” strategy is to create the conditions for celebration,
creation, collaboration, artistic exploration and experiences
that cut through the stale norms of daily life and daily mind.

Corporate Structure and Currency: Collective & Autonomous

The name captured an umbrella vision for wide-ranging creative personal and interpersonal exploration on the edges of society as a training ground, incubator and antidote of sorts to the forms and norms of that society.

Departments. Corporations, with all their departments and focus groups, serve as a perfect organizational foil for artists’ collectives intent on exploring all mediums and venues in as autonomous way as possible. We envisioned the Ransom Corp. as a vast flow chart of liberation, creation and gift-minded departments. Departments of Meditation (for research and development). The Department of Sonic Resonance. The Department of Word Invention. The Task Force for Inventive Philanthropy. And so on. Any new idea or new medium could result in a new department that could take on a life of its own.

Monopoly Redux. Corporations also seek to be vertically and horizontally integrated. A vertically integrated company controls all aspects of a products life cycle from raw material to fabrication to sales to its recycling. A horizontally integrated company controls, for instance, all the widget market in a certain area. To control the entire widget market and to control every aspect of the widget life cycle means you have a nice monopoly on widgets.

Vertically Integrated. For The Ransom Corp., the raw material is relationship with the creative source, the wellspring or muse. From there, every medium has its process of production to arrive at full expression. Done by one person or collective, this is the vertical integration. It involves the kind of time, space and autonomy needed to own our own creative powers and put them to use.

Horizontally Integrated. Since we invited and sought out artists working in every media, this is the horizontal integration–the collaborative, multimedia experience. We liked to think of ourselves, in slightly silly moments of reverie, as a massive, completely invisible, monolithic entity. This concept drew from an earlier project of one of the founders, Aaron Taylor Kuffner (with James Leonard), called the Sky and Culture Company, whereby suited men went door to door selling subscriptions to parcels of Sky and membership plans to CULTURE.

Currency. Though we bartered and bought with money, our primary currency wasn’t monetary. It was inner and outer autonomy, the immaterial magic that happens when we open, the things we create and share, the new value of things when we inhabit that space, the unknown slice of time we enter into when we risk something, the gift. This is the currency that pays the ransom.