distanceequalsratetimestime CrONICAL

Dis­cus­sion between Paul Shep­ard, Simon Maid­ment, and com­mit­tee mem­bers David Simp­kin, Adrien Allen, Katie Lee, 22 Sep­tem­ber 2006.

Adrien Allen: Maybe you could start by describ­ing the work­ing process Paul, because there’s been an inter­est­ing response from a lot of view­ers. They can’t seem to get their head around the medium, how it’s done, it’s rela­tion­ship to pho­tog­ra­phy, the mate­ri­al­ism of the prints, and the spe­cial­ized lighting.

Paul Shep­ard: I guess it’s always been inter­est­ing for me to use pho­tog­ra­phy as a medium to sit on the cusp of com­plete abstrac­tion. Also in this par­tic­u­lar envi­ron­ment I’ve enjoyed installing the work on the cusp of even being iden­ti­fied as pho­tog­ra­phy. I think both Simon and I like to make work that in the­ory exists in its own right, but in this space it had to coex­ist together.

AA: But they’re pho­to­graphic prints with images. They’ve been taken in the same loca­tion or dif­fer­ent locations?

PS: Dif­fer­ent loca­tions. But the sub­ject mat­ter is almost identical.

AA: They’re then sand­wiched in…?

PS: They’re face mounted, so it’s using a process that I actu­ally haven’t used before, whereby the front of the image is actu­ally adhered to a glass Per­spex mate­r­ial. So it’s like a dry mount­ing process but it’s opti­cally trans­par­ent. I think we were always aware that there was going to be a reflec­tion prob­lem. It was a deci­sion at some stage whether you work with that or try to fight it. And I think the solu­tion was essen­tially to use the out­ra­geously reflec­tive mate­r­ial because it was going to be in an envi­ron­ment where you would evoke the fibre optic interaction.

image credit: Christian Capurro 2006

Katie Lee: So if they weren’t mounted in this Per­spex that they’d loose their luminance?

PS: Yeah, it’s (inaudi­ble) paper, which can really look quite inap­pro­pri­ate with a more tra­di­tional image. But when it’s a really min­i­mal image, it becomes quite a fea­ture. It’s one of those few sit­u­a­tions that the more nat­ural ambi­ence you intro­duce into the envi­ron­ment, the darker the images become. It’s quite per­verse the way it responds to light. It’s like an (inaudi­ble) sus­pen­sion. There is an (inaudi­ble) sus­pen­sion in the paper which is not dis­sim­i­lar to a pro­jec­tion screen. It’s quite bizarre.

AA: Can you talk about the deci­sion to hang them over the gallery windows?

PS: Well actu­ally that wasn’t the notion. It sounds like a ridicu­lous com­ment, but Con­i­cal is a very space-specific gallery. It’s not a tra­di­tional gallery that I would nor­mally hang pho­tographs in. My first reac­tion was actu­ally to give them a bit of space to breathe. And in many ways to pull them as far away from Simon’s as pos­si­ble, to let them stand in their own right.

But it’s a no-brainer that you walk into this space and the win­dows have been posi­tioned in a way that is appro­pri­ate to the space. You don’t have to be an artist to do that, you can be a builder to do that. And I don’t know if it’s one of the cru­ellest things that can hap­pen to a pho­tog­ra­pher, but print­ing at the max­i­mum size you can print and mount­ing at the max­i­mum size you can print, because you want to go large, and then find­ing out that they are within 2 or 3 mm short of the exact size of the win­dow is quite a crush­ing expe­ri­ence. So I thought maybe if I’m going to really work with the space, then I will really work with the space. And it’s a sim­i­lar issue with the reflec­tiv­ity. Do you fight it or give in and make it work for you as best you can.

AA: So you went through this whole process try­ing to work out if a gap would be accept­able at the top and at the bot­tom (of the win­dow) and you decided that it wasn’t, so you came up with this sort of MDF wrap­around float­ing wall, that is essen­tially a seam­less wrap around over the win­dows and around the ren­dered walls that most peo­ple don’t notice.

PS: Yeah, I didn’t want to lit­er­ally replace the win­dows with the images.

Simon Maid­ment: And in fact one isn’t over the win­dow, it just looks natural.

PS: I think I wanted to make ref­er­ence to the win­dows, but not replace the win­dows, because you (Adrien) had made spo­ken of shows that had been here before where the win­dows had been blocked up, and replaced with art­work, and I didn’t really want to do that.

AA: The way you have used the win­dow place­ment – despite the fact you haven’t lined them up accu­rately – is like a ready-made com­po­si­tion. It’s a not a clas­sic ser­ial hang . I remem­ber you say­ing that you felt like the win­dows were per­fectly posi­tioned. I’m not sure what you meant by that.

PS: Well it’s inter­est­ing, you know per­fectly posi­tioned isn’t always more inter­est­ing. It’s prob­a­bly some­thing you’ve expe­ri­enced your­self work­ing in this build­ing. Because it’s an older build­ing some­times hav­ing some­thing accu­rate with a spirit level looks com­pletely inap­pro­pri­ate because things have shifted and moved and altered in time.

Walk­ing into an envi­ron­ment like this and see­ing where the win­dows are there’s two things that occur in my mind. One is does it look nat­ural and appro­pri­ate because I’m used to see­ing the win­dows where they are? Or, are the win­dows placed like that not nec­es­sar­ily for struc­tural rea­sons but because they looked balanced?

And it’s inter­est­ing because you could get out a spirit level, or you could get a mea­sur­ing tape or a laser point and work out where equi-distant bal­ance for win­dows or images this size would fit in this room. But when you walk in this room, your inter­ac­tion is dif­fer­ent. It’s like your van­tage point isn’t cen­tral. Your van­tage point is from the door­way, through the hall­way and into this space. So there is no accu­rate or tech­ni­cally cor­rect answer for where they should be posi­tioned and I won­der if per­haps the win­dows were posi­tioned in that way for that reason.

There has to be some golden mean. There has to be some brain­wash­ing about where these por­tals should be in the space.

image credit: Christian Capurro 2006

SM: It was always a grid, but in this space the grid looked less about seri­al­ism and more about an evenly spaced show. Which was the ini­tial issue when we first plot­ted it out. All of a sud­den that grid and that almost unbend­ing nature of how you (Paul) hang and how you show these works and give the impres­sion of one after another, was lost in this space because of it’s nat­u­ral­ness, fire­places and so on.

AA: That’s why it’s not so much about min­i­mal­ist seri­al­ity in that sense, it’s much more about a ready­made in that the sit­u­a­tion already exists and you have to embrace it. It’s not so much empha­sis­ing the author­ity of the works impo­si­tion into the space.

PS: I guess so. I do enjoy par­tic­u­larly clin­i­cal mate­r­ial in an organic space. It was one way to chan­nel and change the space for our pur­poses, but in another way, I feel it would have been wrong to com­pletely repanel the whole gallery and make it flat and lin­ear. I like that clin­i­cal contrast.

AA: The other thing that con­founds the min­i­mal­ism of these works is the fram­ing device that you’ve used with the light­ing. When the lights are off, you walk in and they are black pools. I see them like that when I walk in, in the morn­ing. But the minute that you turn the spe­cial lights on, you are left with a fram­ing device, which turns them much more into pic­tures, they ref­er­ence the his­tory of pic­to­r­ial lan­guage, it turns them into the very win­dows they con­ceal, which to me under­mines their materiality.

PS: I guess, but essen­tially my pri­mary fas­ci­na­tion is with pho­tog­ra­phy and I can’t deny that. It’s one thing to install images and install pan­els, and to say that they are mono­liths, but… I’m in two minds about the light­ing. The edge, the black edge is very much a pho­to­graphic edge. But it’s not a pho­to­graphic edge, it’s actu­ally a light­ing edge. The black edges on the images, are non exis­tent. There’s no ref­er­ence to pho­tog­ra­phy as far as the images are con­cerned. But the light­ing is pre-visualised for this show. The orig­i­nal notion was to use the shut­ters to light the images so that they were lit­er­ally had a lumi­nance that seemed quite dif­fi­cult to discern.

AA: So it’s an absence of light?

PS: Yeah, in a way. It was com­pletely imprac­ti­cal to have the illu­sion that I wanted there to be, because work­ing in an organic space, I would set up the lights and then I would come back in, and it would have rained, and the light­ing would be out because things had shifted… so it was one of those things that hap­pen that you have to live with, but I do quite enjoy that. And the shut­ters have intro­duced a pho­to­graphic edge, which I do also quite like.

SM: When you turn the lights off they become these heavy, mono­lithic things, and they become like black holes that actu­ally suck light out of the room… but there’s that moment which we have now in between. With the lights that you’ve set, peo­ple almost think, ‘what have you done cov­er­ing the win­dows?’ ‘ What have you cov­ered the win­dows with?’ Or ‘what are you pro­ject­ing onto the win­dows’, or maybe, ‘how have you lit these pho­tos?’ But it becomes a shadow…

AA: We talked about illu­sion­ism, but they deny that too. They act like pro­jec­tions. David (Simp­kin) and I were stand­ing around just before not­ing that every time you stand in front of one of those images there is that eye of the light reflect­ing back at you. And to me, that is the eye of the pro­jec­tor, pro­ject­ing the imagery that we see on there. But for David it was some­thing else.

David Simp­kin: For me it was open­ing up all the nar­ra­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties. The world of cin­ema or of the stage and screen. The Golden Gate bridge – you’re float­ing in there. And the light becomes the light of someone’s apart­ment in the city, or a train at night when you have another 6 hours before you get to Syd­ney, and you are look­ing out the window.

image credit: Christian Capurro 2006

PS: It’s inter­est­ing I have won­dered if it’s pos­si­ble to imple­ment two dif­fer­ent medi­ums into a space this size and for it not to be theatrical?

DS: Prob­a­bly. If it’s in a uni­form way, but you are deal­ing with light, so if you are deal­ing with light, and you are com­ing into a dark space, then you’re in a the­atri­cal space. It’s one of the things about installation.

AA: It’s inter­est­ing you talk about the reflec­tion as a prob­lem, but to me the­atri­cal­ity is always the big­ger prob­lem. But I’ve tried to stop think­ing about it as a prob­lem. You may remem­ber Louise Hub­bard talk­ing about har­ness­ing the the­atri­cal, by using illu­sion­ism (see CrON­I­CAL #3). Not try­ing to go against it or solve it, or even under­min­ing it, but just by har­ness­ing it. The the­atri­cal is there, but there is also this whole sense of autonomous visual illu­sion that some­how coexists.

SM: I’m totally dri­ven by the the­atri­cal­ity of art. Whether it’s some­one liv­ing in a wall, David, (refer­ring to 2006 VCA show) whom you can’t really see. Or works that you’re told about that you haven’t expe­ri­enced first hand. Like Chiara and Roberta, the two Milanese cura­tors that are out here pre­sent­ing this project (Too Near To Far 2007). They had no doc­u­men­ta­tion or video only an essay about a friend of theirs that is an artist who grew his hair and dyed it grey, and grew his fin­ger­nails and put on a paunch, and tried to look as much like his father as pos­si­ble and no one really saw this act, or this the­atri­cal thing… but it becomes this the­atre in the world of art. It becomes this the­atre when it is told to an audi­ence of peo­ple, where it doesn’t have to act out in front of them, it can kind of become a tale. I’m totally into the the­atri­cal­ity of art, because for me it’s where a lot of it’s power lies. Because I’m not really inter­ested in objects, I’m inter­ested in the other stuff about the dis­cus­sion or about the the­atre of it.

AA: That is why I wanted to bring the dis­cus­sion back to the level of the object ini­tially. Because there’s an ambi­gu­ity in the show between object and images.

SM: The images?

AA: Yes, the images. I think some­times we assume that the mate­r­ial facts are taken in imme­di­ately, but in this par­tic­u­lar show they’re not. Peo­ple walk away enjoy­ing the show, but not under­stand­ing that they are pho­tographs or par­tic­u­larly not read­ing the imagery in the pho­tos. Does that mat­ter to you Paul?

PS: Well I’m not sure if I’m being brain­washed by Simon or not. I’ve always found with you (Simon) that you’ve always seen the artis­tic endeav­our as being a the­atri­cal occu­pa­tion. Whether it’s a meet­ing in a gallery, or installing a work or mak­ing work. And I don’t know if I’ve blindly accepted that because I’m okay with that. But it’s almost like a sec­ond bite of the cherry. If peo­ple don’t under­stand or inter­act with the pho­tog­ra­phy in this envi­ron­ment the way we’ve installed it, if they walk away hav­ing been a good thing then I’m okay with that.

SM: I think that is totally under­selling the dis­cus­sions that we’ve been hav­ing about those things and the ideas that you always have about ‘red her­rings’ but also a deci­sion that you’ve made, and that we’ve made col­lec­tively. You def­i­nitely wanted to have the lights that framed the prints. Deep down inside as an instal­la­tion, you much pre­fer the lights to be off, and for them to act like black mir­rors, rather than pho­to­graphic prints. But that’s not what the show is about. The show is about pho­to­graphic prints.

DS: Have you oper­ated the show in that sense? (In the dark)

PS: We have, on request.

DS: Hav­ing the gallery open for a day, and show­ing it with the lights off?

SM: We talked about doing that.

AA: It would feel like a bit of an add-on in this show though, it’s like you are try­ing to force process on it or something.

SM: In the clas­sic sense your show (Paul) would be in a white cube, with the prints on the wall, lit how they are, but in a brighter envi­ron­ment. Mine would be with­out any other lights on and with this thing, (the work) sort of breath­ing. But the point is that this show was never designed to be like that. Part of the power of it is that it is nei­ther of those things. And the rea­son peo­ple can walk away and be con­fused about the medium is that it isn’t so straight-forward as being one or the other. And that’s part of the rea­son that we com­mis­sioned the essay in the way that we did, with Susan Fere­day. In that we didn’t have her write at all descrip­tively about the pieces, but about some of the ideas that we were talk­ing about. And we sat down and had a round table dis­cus­sion about some of the things that Paul and I had talked about that led up to this show, and an inter­est in such a sim­ple for­mal thing as a depar­ture point, with the cables, and we def­i­nitely pur­sued that path. And it’s not a sec­ond bite of the cherry, it’s actu­ally a really con­scious deci­sion to prob­lema­tise the relationship.

I think we have always enjoyed walk­ing the line between co-existence and collaboration.

AA: Maybe just a final point on the pho­tog­ra­phy Paul, does the imagery matter?

PS: It mat­ters to me. Are you say­ing does it mat­ter in regard­ing to this show or does it mat­ter universally?

AA: Does it mat­ter as imagery in an iso­lated way? Or does it only mat­ter as it inter­sects with the reflected imagery?

SM: The reflected imagery came after the pho­to­graphic imagery.

PS: If it didn’t mat­ter to me I would have put in 5 black mono­liths. The imagery is impor­tant to me.

AA: I think you imbibe the atmos­phere. You take in the room, and the dia­logue between the two pieces. But then there is this other thing, this inti­mate require­ment, where you have to walk up to 3 or 4 paces from the prints in order to be able to dis­cern the imagery. And I won­der about that way of look­ing as opposed to the over­all expe­ri­ence of the installation …

SM: That is the dif­fer­ence between our prac­tices. Mine is always about sit­ting in the room and expe­ri­enc­ing this thing envelop­ing, and Paul’s is quite different.

AA: Per­haps we could talk about Simon’s work now. Could you talk about the scale of the work Simon? You used the word model…

SM: No, you used the word model, in a past con­ver­sa­tion. I got the sense from you when the Con­i­cal com­mit­tee were look­ing over the pro­posal for these works, nei­ther of which were pho­tographed, or built and pho­tographed for the com­mit­tee to see, that there was a sense that my work would be this quite large, archi­tec­tural, mon­u­men­tal inter­ven­tion, and that Paul’s would be prints on the wall. But actu­ally the process of hang­ing Paul’s work on the wall, and get­ting the space ready for that was actu­ally the big archi­tec­tural, mon­u­men­tal inter­ven­tion, which thank­fully hardly any­body notices when they come into the gallery. But mine are, how I’d always envis­aged them. Pretty much. I was con­sid­er­ing the scale a lit­tle higher, before spend­ing a lit­tle time in the gallery and see­ing the way the beams inter­act with the roof. I felt like I needed to work within the space there and they are def­i­nitely tai­lored to the Con­i­cal space. Poten­tially in another gallery they would have been a lit­tle higher, but only in rela­tion to the space that sur­rounds them and I’ve always seen them as a vehi­cle for the lights, and not as objects.

Obvi­ously there is atten­tion to spe­cific details within them. Right down to the mix of paints that cre­ate exactly the reflec­tiv­ity and gloss that I wanted, but there was always a sense that they would act as a vehi­cle for car­ry­ing the cables first, and objects second.

So in that way they were always just respond­ing to the phys­i­cal amount of space. There were always going to be two, the dips were always going to do what they do, although I was con­sid­er­ing the cen­tre dip of the cables being a bit lower. But every­thing else was a deci­sion I made in the space here.

A lot of my work, with­out going off on too much of an obscure tan­gent, has always been about infin­ity and the void and this is one idea of the end­less­ness of these and the impo­tence of these. Of this very kind of rus­tic falling down impos­si­bil­ity, a lot of the ideas that Susan talks about in her essay. And so they are a lit­tle bit about fail­ure. But they’re also about end­less­ness. And that was the main thing with installing them here, that they were part of a con­tin­uum. I couldn’t envis­age a way of get­ting that sense of end­less­ness with­out using some kind of sym­me­try within the space. And it seemed like quite a nat­ural one. And when you stand in the entrance, and are about to step into the space that the visual pic­ture that it would give was really impor­tant that it would phys­i­cally bisect the space in front of you. To tap into that endlessness.

Katie Lee: It’s sort of a feed­back. And that is mim­ic­ked in the seam­less­ness of the wall mounts. You’ve turned what are actu­ally frac­tured in a way, into a seam­less line around the wall. I was in a loop, rather than an extension.

image credit: Christian Capurro 2006

SM: Well that’s the infin­ity thing. There’s a time-based thing that you can’t cap­ture in an inter­view or in documentation.

AA: We’ve talked a lot about the ambi­gu­ity of Paul’s work, it seems to me to be posi­tioned in oppo­si­tion to the rep­re­sen­ta­tional qual­ity of your work. There’s a cer­tain lit­er­al­ism to the piece, the scal­ing down, right down to the elec­tric­ity con­duc­tors. Some view­ers have found it quite brave in rela­tion to the abstrac­tion in Paul’s work, and oth­ers have found it too much of a chasm to try and bridge.

SM: I find it inter­est­ing that it’s a chasm. I could imag­ine peo­ple think­ing that it was a bit banal. That it’s just a rendition.

AA: Peo­ple have said, ‘what if it was just the cable’ (with­out the poles).

SM: Stu­art Koop said the same thing, he said, ‘I felt like you should some­how sus­pend the cables with­out the poles’. Which is pos­si­ble, but then it’s talk­ing about cables and wave­forms rather than cables and pow­er­lines. I wanted to phys­i­cally address some of the abstrac­tion in Paul’s work. I kind of like that idea that I actu­alised this thing that he’s spent so long try­ing to abstract. I did go down the road of try­ing to abstract the poles and being really tricky with them, and they always would have been vehi­cles. But it felt too tricky to try and do it any other way. The only other way that the­atri­cally appealed to me, was that I really wanted to make them out of rammed unprocessed ura­nium. It’s pretty expen­sive to get hold of, but I really wanted to make it out of the dirt they get out of ura­nium mines. But I didn’t, and it would have been a really dif­fer­ent show.

The other way I was think­ing about it was abstract­ing the poles and hav­ing it formed out of plas­tics and stuff, almost Alexan­der Knox style, you know fuck­ing up of an actual form and slight abstrac­tion. The fur­ther and fur­ther I went down this path, the more it had to be really rus­tic. Almost to the point that it had to have the same cov­er­ing that they have over real power poles. I guess they are kind of models.

AA: They were referred to by one viewer as more of a clothes line than a tele­graph pole.

SM: I was going to make a Hills Hoist, but appar­ently Paul’s work was of power lines. I like emblem­atic imagery as well. Even when I was doing pho­tog­ra­phy, I like cre­at­ing things that rather than being signs or pic­to­r­ial work… I’ve always steered toward this idea that things can be really emblem­atic, emblems of other things and these (power poles) recall a whole lot in our coun­try, that clothes lines do as well, a ver­nac­u­lar, but it’s not enough to do a clothes line, it would have to be a Hills Hoist. In the same way it’s not enough just to do a power pole, it has to be a power pole like we have in Australia.

AA: There’s noth­ing remotely clothes-line-like about them, per­haps it was a scale issue, or that you’ve only cho­sen to drape two cables that don’t inter­sect phys­i­cally and only inter­sect as imagery (reflected on Paul’s prints).

SM: They inter­sect phys­i­cally in Paul’s work, and they inter­sect phys­i­cally depend­ing on where you stand in the room.

AA: That’s what I’m say­ing, they inter­sect as imagery, but not as phys­i­cal strands, they don’t touch. And some of your pho­to­graphic imagery inter­sects and some of it doesn’t.

PS: We have enjoyed play­ing with this as composition.

SM: And find­ing that Golden Gate bridge as David sug­gested before.

KL: With the model-like nature of it and the dis­ap­pear­ance of the cables into the wall, I felt that there was no escape from it. Paul, you talked about it hav­ing an escape qual­ity, but I actu­ally found it quite nightmarish.

Do you think the work has a direction?

SM: There’s a cer­tain place in the room when you stand in the room and the reflec­tion almost per­fectly echoes what you think or know what the print has on it. I like the idea that is pro­posed by Damien Hirst, about com­ing across his pieces in a gallery, where you don’t see the start and the end of them in terms of how they’re installed. You just come across these objects and they look like the fell from space and there is no phys­i­cal mark of how they got there. That’s the first impres­sion of his work, you come across these things and that ren­der­ing of it is very con­trolled, and then it’s the con­tent of it that you engage with sec­ond. And I like try­ing to do that. It appealed to me in his work.

PS: What do you mean when you talk about direc­tion Katie?

KL: You’ve been talk­ing about the the­atri­cal ele­ment to the work and about expe­ri­en­tial ver­sus the pic­to­r­ial, and the point that you stand at when you enter the work, and the point that you’ve cho­sen to doc­u­ment the work from, looks like you’re stand­ing at the vista, and ref­er­enc­ing the sub­lime, stand­ing on the precipice look­ing out over the land­scape, and the vista being the win­dow panes. It’s a heroic set… like a Friedrich paint­ing or something.

SM: The thing I like about this piece (the cables) that you don’t get in the exhi­bi­tion is that you don’t have the sense of the room breath­ing in and out with the light. Which is how it feels when you just have this piece on, rather than with the other lights on too.

AA: The glue that holds this cohab­i­ta­tion together for me is the puls­ing of the light in the fibre– optic cables. It’s a phys­i­o­log­i­cal pulse, like the pulse of the build­ing, which, as Paul has found out, is very much alive. And it points out the vis­ceral con­nec­tion between these two works. It was inter­est­ing when Chris Coller was in here yes­ter­day, he was say­ing, ‘but they pulse, don’t they’, he was actu­ally talk­ing about your pho­tos Paul.

SM: He said the same thing to me. He brought it down to the change in the light. To Penny Webb they are cables caught by pass­ing head­lights, and to Stu­art Koop they are the phys­i­cal wave­forms, so the phys­i­cal cable lay­out echoes the wave form that is cre­at­ing the light going up and down.

AA: What I like is the restraint of the pulse. And given the tech­nol­ogy of both of the works, it’s an admirable restraint. Often you see tech­nol­ogy start to take on a for­mal­ism, its all about itself, and it doesn’t do that. It pulses in a way that enriches the content.

SM: The only way to get that hap­pen­ing was to make the loop last. The pulse was pro­grammed last, I began pro­gram­ming when Paul was here, and then fin­ished it with­out him. But it was really impor­tant that every­thing was installed before the loop was pro­grammed. And it was lit­er­ally like a draw­ing. I drew it and drew it and drew it and drew it in the space.

I sat here in the space and didn’t pack up my tools until 5.50 pm (before the open­ing), not because I was phys­i­cally work­ing on any­thing, but because I was draw­ing it again and again until it felt right. So maybe that’s the emo­tional ele­ment of it. It is an organic pulse and it’s sup­posed to ref­er­ence breath­ing, as you talk about with the build­ing. But it is sup­posed to ref­er­ence breath­ing in the same way that the piece I’ve just fin­ished with Al Knox, the light­ing piece on top of the build­ing ref­er­ences breath­ing and it’s the same idea… that when you bring some­one into a phys­i­cal space it hope­fully posi­tions them phys­i­o­log­i­cally in a cer­tain way, so that they start breath­ing dif­fer­ently, or it slows their pace in the room down.

image credit: Christian Capurro 2006

AA: Yve Alain-Bois coined the phrase the ‘res­pi­ra­tion of space’ (in an essay on the artist Fred Sand­back). The pulse is like a breath that human­ises what could be quite a cold expe­ri­ence. But it’s quite an uncanny humanising.

SM: I love uncanny.

AA: It’s not a human­is­ing that you can relate to. I used the word vis­ceral before but maybe that’s wrong. Maybe physiological..

SM: No, that’s the idea that I was not artic­u­lat­ing with emblem­atic imagery. When you do some­thing that’s emblem­atic it’s not touch­able or obtain­able, and it’s not ‘of your thing’. It’s not a sign of some­thing else in life, it’s an emblem, and that’s kind of what I’m inter­ested in that specif­i­cally with imagery and with those things. It’s about some­thing that is a slip­page. You recog­nise it as being from your life, but it’s dis­placed in such as way that is… there’s plenty of artists that do this. That’s the uncanny, but you wouldn’t walk into this exhi­bi­tion and think, ‘wow, that’s uncanny’ but there is a cer­tain sep­a­ra­tion from the object.

It’s not just about the cables either, it’s about the poles, with the pol­ished steel, which should be ceramic or glass or some­thing. So there are a whole lot to ele­ments that feed into the same thing…the dis­tance and the slip­page between these things and life. Which is why it couldn’t have been abstracted in the same way. We couldn’t have had a sound­track although we were going to add one later.

AA: There is a sound­track though isn’t there? The sound of the com­puter. It sounds very much like tra­di­tional 35mm film run­ning through a projector.

SM: Well it’s exactly the sound­track that we were think­ing of hav­ing. It’s a hum. I’ve done a lot of sound works and Paul’s done a lot of sound work with his video instal­la­tions and we decided very late that we wouldn’t do one. But we talked almost about exactly the same sound, but on a larger scale. But I felt in the end that it would be too tricky.

AA: Manip­u­la­tion is some­thing I get very strongly from this show. And I think a sound­track could have tipped it to be too much toward tech­ni­cal gimmickry.

SM: And the thing that David was talk­ing about before that peo­ple can browse the var­i­ous ele­ments, and tap into some approaches and things that we are talk­ing about, or Susan is talk­ing about in the essay. But that wouldn’t hap­pen if there was a sound piece or a music piece that was designed.