Artist: Jennifer Steinkamp
Soundtrack: Jimmy Johnson
Programming: Sarah Rosenbaum
Dimensions: each monolith 3 x 17 x 1 feet, room 70 x 38 x 17 feet
Equipment: 6 Epson 5350 1500 lumen projectors, 6 Imacs, 2 G3s, 24 track sound, 1 Icube
Photo credit: Steven Heller, courtesy ACME, Los Angeles and greengrassi, London.
Exhibition History: Williamson Gallery, Pasadena, California. (One person exhibition), curated by Stephen Nowlin, February 13 - April 23, 2000.
Description: After being approached to create an installation for the gallery, my first thought was to create large floor to ceiling monoliths, I realized this almost immediately, the forms would fill the space while referencing some of the existing proportions of the gallery. I imagined the monoliths as a forest of tall figures or trees.
Following a little research on the phenomenon of monoliths in nature, and quarried obelisks from Europe, South America, North Africa, and the Middle East, I was intrigued by their mysterious long lost ritual or memorial significance or their practical use as sundials, calendars, or boundary markers. All these possibilities imbued these forms with incredible significance and openness simultaneously. I imagined Stanley Kubrick and Author C. Clarke discussing similar thoughts while considering the monolith as a symbol for the film and book 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I also appreciated that these forms could stand in for the body, they became like figures. This is further emphasized by arcing the animation and sound around the viewer as they approached each monolith, the image would envelop the body. The viewer has always been an integral part of the artwork - their shadow disrupts the image, breaking the illusion of the projection. Their playfulness and movement though the space creates the experience. Ultrasonic sensors are used to track the viewer's relationship to each monolith. As the viewer approached the monolith, the animation sped up and then proceeded to arc upwards, tracing a line around their body. Another couple of sensors were located at the far ends of the gallery, these sent the image and sound into a chorus, all the monoliths sang together in unison.