Publication Details

Ballard, S. "Emergence: The generation of material spaces in Anthony McCall's "Line Describing a Cone"." Engage: Interaction, Art and Audience Experience. Ed. E. Edmonds, L. Muller & D. Turnbull. Sydney: University of Technology, Sydney, 2006. 16-27.


This paper begins from a belief that all media are material, and that in their specificity time-based media can introduce us to different kinds of relationships and experiences across material surfaces and forces within gallery spaces. To this end, it will demonstrate how a 16mm film installation within a gallery space presents materiality as emergent. The paper focuses on an artwork that draws on installation's cinematic legacy Line Describing a Cone by Anthony McCall (1973). Line Describing a Cone is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts possibly because it invokes a particularly affective interactive experience that echoes many works being produced within digital environments. Line Describing a Cone is an interactive solid light work dependant on a 16mm film projector and a smoke filled room. It is expanded cinema, that is, cinema falling off (or without the need for) the screen and the other usual accoutrements of the cinematic apparatus. Line Describing a Cone suggests the emergence of a new kind of mobilized viewer within gallery spaces. In discussing some basic ideas of emergence alongside this work I want to demonstrate that materiality is not a pre-existent condition of art installation but emerges through and by virtue of the forces of noise.

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