Pascal reached out to me before the opening of his show for a little help to spread the word. I’ve found good photos to be pretty effective in that capacity, so I met up with Pascal on the Monday before the show to see the piece for the first time in its entirety and grab a few shots to blog a quick invite. The installation was so damned compelling that I shot a whole whack of frames over a couple of hours.
This piece can be viewed weekdays 4-6pm through March 28 or by contacting Pascal.
I love the makerly problem solving combined with the artist’s esthetic and philosopher’s concepts here. A moderately-unreasonable number of photos follow…
This was a challenging shoot in that there was a huge range of darks and lights. I wanted to capture the machines in relative darkness, but not overexpose the projection screens, washing out the colour. It was further complicated in that the machines were whirling around. Pascal and I also had to patiently wait for optimal projections to appear. So it was a balancing act in the shoot and a little experimentation in post-processing.
Asked Pascal to strike this pose to echo the machines.
Happily, there was a 10-foot stepladder on site that allowed me to shoot downward with the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.
I used this shot in the reception invite. Great visual echoes.
I particularly like the captures where virtual Pascal is watching real Pascal.
I lined Pascal up near the screen so I could capture the machine, him, his shadow, and the visual echoes. Got it.
This shot failed in that I didn’t have enough depth of field to have real Pascal in focus as well as the screen, but the projections were also rapidly changing, so I had to take the shot.
Doing a bit of framing here.
I popped on the 50mm to do some close-ups with shallow DOF.
Real DW shooting Virtual DW shooting Virtual Rex.
Machines, especially ones with their works exposed, are fascinating to shoot. Can you appreciate the multi-contact slip rings that are required for this camera stalk to receive power and ground and also deliver the composite video signal to the main chassis? And it must run reliably for an extended period of time if it is to survive beyond the artist’s constant care. In his book “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art”, author Don Thompson discussed the additional challenges posed by kinetic/electronic installation pieces. Preservation of, say, an oil painting requires a certain room temperature and humidity. Caretaking of a piece like Pascal’s may require makerly skills to replace worn belts, slip rings, bearings, or motors. If repairs are required years after creation, direct replacement parts may not be available, necessitating a substitute part. And then any modifications to the piece must consider the original intent (and hopefully blessing) of the artist. And does the piece come with a manual? With manufacturer part numbers? With source code? This is not to say collectors shouldn’t buy these works: they should. Hell, I work in a similar domain, so I definitely want you to buy work like this. I think the point is for buyers to be informed and to anticipate the maintenance requirements. Perhaps there is a business opportunity for makerspaces worldwide to service art installations.
Consider the understanding of physics required here. This beautiful machined sphere counterbalances the camera stalk, preventing the machine from shaking itself off its legs at higher RPM.
Note the ring of infrared LEDs around the camera lens. They appear to be off. Although infrared light is invisible to our eyes, it is not invisible to the CCD sensor in my camera. If the IR LEDs were on, we would see them as bright spots in this shot, even though my (and almost all) cameras have IR-cut filters built in.
Took a number of shots at slower shutter speeds, trying to capture a bit of the motion blur of both the camera stalk revolution and the boom revolution as well. Like on many shoots, you don’t have endless time, so you have to budget on your shot list.
These bronze housings were very expensive and totally worth it. Gorgeous glow to them with quasi-anthropomorphic features abounding.
Pascal wanted even the machine tripod to appear somewhat unfamiliar to us, so he designed some very cool adjustable tripod legs. This piece of the tripod leg allows for height adjustment with a simple hex wrench and also serves as a beautiful element of the piece.
Look at the beveling of this mounting plate under the main housing. This is where it is a big advantage to have a good relationship with your machinist. Pascal found a smaller machine shop that was willing to work with him and understand what he was going for. Look at the rounded ends of the leg rods. Excellent.
This cable port in the main housing is fantastic. It’s like a mouth.
I shot the creator shooting the creation that is shooting back and feeding images back into the creator’s shot. Loop it!
Loved this shot because it was as if Real Pascal was being sucked into the camera stalk and emerging virtually on the screens. Fantastique.