Surveiller - Installation
Commissioned by the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast and shown there 2004
Also shown in Static, Liverpool, 2005, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, 2006, and Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, 2009.
(Description of this database project published in Sculpture, USA, in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue)
“For this work – Surveiller – I built a database of visual art exhibitions held in Belfast from 1968 to 2001, the period which coincides with the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. This information has been screen printed onto Perspex panels, one for each year, and is mounted along one wall of the gallery. The panels are of a uniform width but the height of each individual panel depended on the number of entries, that is the number of exhibitions, for each year. The effect visually is like an audio wave-form, as activity expanded and contracted during the period. I had not expected any direct correlation between art activity and the political events in Northern Ireland, but in fact the finished work does seem to indicate a relationship. At times art activities were curtailed simply because galleries were being bombed, but there also appears to be a more complex relationship between the number of art events and the advancement of political solutions.
There are other elements to the installation in addition to the panels. An office – with table, chair, computer and filing cabinet is set up behind a wall at one end of the gallery. The information from the database is available in a searchable form on the computer. Visitors to the exhibition can search the database, but as they do so they are being picked up by a surveillance camera, which is transmitting these images to a monitor mounted on the wall just inside the door of the gallery.”