The artist went to the physical effort of transporting a two-metre diameter hoop down into a pond, where it made a very subtle intervention, blending in with the surroundings. She then rowed the video camera from one end of the pond towards the hoop, trying to keep the center of the hoop in the center of the frame. As the video unfolds, the hoop gradually emerges from its surroundings, as the video camera gets closer and eventually glides into the hoop. The task is successful but this success serves no purpose.
Concept Model #2
Concept Model #2, detail
Concept Model #1
Concept Model #1, detail
Concept Models, installation view, Holden Gallery Manchester
Concept Models sketches
The sculpture series Concept Models explores the gap between intention and realisation. The sculptures are representations of different scientific models, which are in themselves representations of scientific laws. Scientific models take different forms. For instance, a Galilean idealisation is a model that involves deliberate distortions, usually representing an ideal situation, e.g. one with no friction, or isolated systems. These models are a representation of a situation that can only exist in the abstract, not in reality. There are also analogical models; models where something is described as being ‘like’ something else. For example, the theory of general relativity is often explained using the rubber-sheet model; the curvature of gravity is ‘like’ the curvature of a rubber sheet when a weight is placed on it. The very act of using an analogical model involves inherent failure.
Concept Models aestheticises the work of scientists, and in particular the intellectual work of having to explain and simplify complicated or abstract concepts. This marks an important distinction between the work of artists and scientists. When the scientist devises a model, they need to take into account the falsity involved in simplifying or analogising, and try to keep this to a minimum. An artist is not tied to the truth but instead makes decisions based on the aesthetic. In Concept Models this aestheticising is present through the residue of the artist’s work. The artist is the placer of a marble, or the turner of a screw. The science is compromised yet again by the artist, who takes the basics of an explanation of a principle and does what is needed to make it ‘work’. All photographs by Olivier Richomme.
The video piece Work Velocity depicts a steam engine governor, the part of the engine that regulates the speed. When the engine picks up speed, the heavy balls of the governor are forced outward, which slows the engine down, and in turn causing the balls to drop back down. The video is edited to show the the endless repetition of the balls of the governor slowly moving out, then back in again. This function, which once had profound importance, now serves as a demonstration. In the early mills, every machine would have been connected to one source of power through a series of connecting drive shafting and belt systems, the rate of production of every part of the manufacturing process was dependent on the speed of the engine. But the steam engine depicted in the video is now in a museum – the ‘work’ has become a commodity. The engine’s speeds controls no work, except possibly the artist’s, who tries to make it perform, making it slow down then speed up in order to get the shot, the ‘work’.
Trying to Hit the Video Camera with a Ping Pong Ball is a one-shot, ten minute long looped film of a white wall. The white wall is regularly interceded by a number of ping pong balls which sometimes fly straight through the shot and sometimes bounce off the lens of the camera. Intermittently there is the sound of someone walking around the large echoey space picking up the balls, only to re-start the unavailing activity of once again throwing them at the camera.
Work Done explores the concept of ‘work’. 160 joules of work was put into this piece to overcome gravity and lift the ‘block of art’ from the floor to its current position.
Work Done (160 Joules)
Work Done (160 Joules), installation view Piccadilly Place