Elizabeth McAlpine

Ed, who has kindly supplied me with Standard 8 film told me about this artist, he had just been to her current show at the Laura Bartlett Gallery in London. The Gallery website described her work as being film sculptures, fantastic constructions one of which was using 6 Super 8 projectors cycling the same loop of white film with a occasional red frames.
I have three old projectors for Standard 8 film, and each is completely different, made by a different manufacturer, makes a different noise and has different individual annoying way of snarling up the film. Using the projectors as the art work, rather than what they are projecting is rather nice.
I found the piece below on her website.. which I think is brilliant and works on so many different levels.
“98m” (the hight of the Campanelie, San Marco, Venice)
Date: 2005
Size: 145 x 21.4 x 73.3 cm,
Super 8 mm film, projector, wood, glass.
Description: A duration of 20 minutes of Super 8 mm film plays on a loop. Footage that pans from the base of the Campanile in Venice to the top is projected in postcard size onto the wall. The film falls and loops within a glass structure, visible to the viewer. McAlpine has used 98 metres of Super 8 mm film to film the 98 metre high structure of the Campanile.



Fischli & Weiss

Peter Fischli and David Weiss are two swiss artists to whom I would not consider letting my warehouse.  Their film THE WAY THINGS GO is 30 minutes of chain reaction using weight, fire, water,  momentum, time to arrange a a sequence of actions.  It is very very cleverly designed and arranged but it is also a thing of beauty: love the timing cadences and sense of chance and balance.  Below is an extract of the film from You tube and what Fischli and Weiss had to say about the film on MediaArtnet.org.

 «The Way of Things»

Naturally, this tape is also concerned with the problem of guilt and innocence. An object must be blamed for not proceeding further, and also for proceeding further.
‘An unambiguously CORRECT result of experiments exists; this is obtained when it works, when this construction collapses. Then again, there is a BEAUTIFUL which ranks above the CORRECT; this is obtained when it’s a close shave or the construction collapses the way we want it to – slowly and intricately, that is, a beautiful collapse. The aesthetic layer on top of a function is like the butter on a sandwich – rather thin and smooth. The wrong result is obtained when things get going of their own accord, and the wrong result is obtained when they don’t get going at all. The CORRECT range (which in terms of moral theology might also be called GOOD) is, in our view, incredibly narrow. Similarly, GOOD and EVIL are often very close, for example when the candle on the swing sets fire to the detonating fuse. Because they are nice and childish, the candle and the swing tend towards the good, whereas the detonating fuse is evil because you don’t need it for harmless things. On the other hand, every object in our installation is good if it functions, because it then liberates its successor, gives it the chance
of development. Not destructive in that sense.’

Little Nipper

144_4471_r11The brief was to produce a 3d piece of work on the theme of protection.  This purpose of this work is to look at proportionate responses to threat, on a small scale domestically, or a larger scale nationally.

It is titled after the name on the mousetrap, but I was also considering other titles: Shock and Awe; David and Goliath; Collateral Damage.  The way it works is that when someone attempts to take a chocolate from the tin the mousetrap goes off, tugging a wire which releases the very very heavy large rock hanging overhead it.  The rock then falls inflicting serious injury on the person underneath.  It will probably also destroy the chocolates and the tin, and possibly the plinth as well.

144_4475_r1The idea for how this would work was very simple, mousetrap tugs wires through to right angle joints to pull pin sideways releasing rock to fall.   However the force of the mousetrap was only just strong enough using maximum leverage and therefore the hook holding the rock had to balanced right on the edge of its pine, making it precarious.


Notions of Celebrity


Final piece for the brief ‘Spartacus’.  Three projectors and the sound track of a huge audience cheering and applauding, all set to activate for 30 seconds when the subject walks along a small strip of red carpet upon the floor.  The purpose being to explore the transient and superficial nature of celebrity; the experience of being applauded; the role of the audience,  worship, excitement and anticipation; and the manufactured, stage managed commercial aspect.

As Marilyn Munro said “We are all of us stars and we all deserve to twinkle”.

An interesting aspect of this piece of work was the varied response of the viewers.. some naturally veered to the role of audience and joined in the applause, others naturally were drawn to the spotlight, lapped up the applause and took a bow.

Protection – contextual studies for 3d.

For this assignment I am devising something which was initially inspired by the Israeli security wall built in the West Bank, but has since expanded to include how nations, societies and individuals respond to their security being threatened.  It is really about what are ‘reasonable lengths’, and what is ‘over the top’.  I am moving towards devising an action mechanism which will express these thoughts.  I have been thinking about artists whose work ‘does’ something..  and this gives me an opportunity to play with things just a little bit mechanical, which presses my buttons too.


I would love to see some of this artist’s work for real,  the descriptions sound fantastic.  Born in 1944 in Germany, the influence of growing up with the shame of Nazism is strong in Horns work, as also is the effect of prolonged illness. Horn started out making prosthetic body parts and extensions and Unicorn was an example from this period:  


In an interview in the Guardian on 23.5.05 there is the following description:  ‘it was the beginning of Horn’s love affair with automata: the installation machines that gradually took over from the human body extensions, and became intelligent life forms commenting on ours.  Germanic pleasure in precision engineering is touchingly evident in all the cogs andwheels and motors that power the fantasies she makes.    .. The infra-red detectors catch us as we enter the room, and our own movement prompts the machines to life.  Others simply move when they want to move, or so it seems, inanimate objects suddenly fluttering and rising, then tiring again.  Horn says ” I like my machines to tire, they are more than objects.  These are not cars or washing machines.  They rest, they reflect, they wait.” ‘  There is so much about this artist that intrigues me but I had better stop or I could go on and on.


I saw an exhibition of Roman Signers work at the Fruitmarket Gallery last year and loved it.  Again, it was full of humour, and curiosity.. “what will happen if..”, wonderful experiments so it has been very interesting to read up his thinking about the relationship between his experiments, sculpture, purpose and performance. (from an article on ArtForum).

Signer said in this article that he used to do some of his ‘artworks’ live but most were recorded on film.  In both cases he would perform the action ‘dozens of times’ before proceeding to performance with either an audience or cameraman present.  He was interested in the effects of his ‘explosions’ and other impacts :by the sculpture that was formed, often a transient sculpture like a column of water rising, but a sculpture that could be capture on film and was therefore preserved.  He was not wishing the main point to be the danger or risk, and carefully protects himself each time.  he stopped doing actions in front of an audience as worried ‘ they were misunderstood or mistaken for entertainment’.

In a write up of an exhibition of Signer’s work at Rochester Art Centre last summer there were a number of phrases that struck me:

He adresses issues of  time chance and change.

Cause and effect relationships…point of entry ..challenge the viewer to interpret and create meaning.

Even though the sculptures are presented as static, unmoving and seemingly created in the past, they are inbued with a particular timelessness that belie their usual state- that of rest or completion.

The sulptures possess a heightened sense of potential for action.

Signer says “always in my work something is going to happen, is happening, or could happen.”


This is what intrigues me, a sculpture with an action component does have to be busy ‘doing’ the action continuously;  it could just ‘do’ in the mind of the viewer, and expressing a potential; or it could be the sculpture formed by the action when it took place.  What the action is, how it is relevant to the idea, and how it is communicated..either live, potential, or past, are decisions which are part of the artwork.