NEoN Digital Arts Archive

Sculpture of a wall of monitors playing CRT videos


Rhoda Ellis with Adam Lockhart

Guthrie Street

An iconic video sculpture by David Hall is re-represented in virtual reality: A Situation Envisaged: The Rite II (Cultural Eclipse), 1988-1990. Come experience this work by being immersed in a life-sized ‘VIRTUAL Hall’ or gallery, to appreciate this artwork at risk of obsolescence due to its use of redundant technology, namely CRT monitors.

David Hall was one of the pioneers of video art in the UK, beginning with the ubiquitous TV Interruptions he made for STV in 1971 as part of the Edinburgh Festival. He continued to make single screen video works, but his main focus was the creation of video sculptures. Most of these sculptures used old cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors which are no longer manufactured. Although these are still available at the moment, over time they will gradually disappear and it will become more and more difficult to find any working examples. Due to these problems with technological obsolescence, many of Hall’s and numerous other artists works may not be so easily replicated in the future. With this in mind, other ways to present these works need to be considered to allow them to be appreciated by future audiences. One way to do this is by using virtual reality.

As part of the group exhibition for NEoN Media Archaeology: Excavations, David Hall’s video sculpture, A Situation Envisaged: The Rite II (Cultural Eclipse), 1988-1990 is recreated in this way. In the original work, 15 monitors are built as a single block close to a wall. All but one face the wall and are not seen. Contemporary TV broadcasts reflecting on the wall form an aurora of changing light. In the centre, on the only screen to be seen is a 30 line image of the moon shot on a ‘camera’/scanner identical to that used by J L Baird in the 1920s. The sound, by David Cunningham (Flying Lizards), is derived from multiple broadcast channels and composed as a musical score.

Viewers will experience the work by being immersed in a life-sized ‘VIRTUAL Hall’ or gallery. This will give the user an idea and ‘feel’ of what the work is like. It should be noted that this is not a replacement for the original work but should be regarded as an illustration or simulation.

About the artists:

Rhoda Ellis (UK), a recent graduate in Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practices from DJCAD, University of Dundee has been exploring the notion of the “Virtual Gallery” through the use of Virtual Reality both as a medium for making her own artworks (Being-in-the-Gallery, 2017) but also as a curatorial tool to preserve and exhibit works by other artists, as part of the Spaces of Uncertainty summer academy hosted by the Württembergische Kunstverein, Stuttgart (2016) and the Re-exposition at Centrespace, VRC (2017).

Her background in Neuroscience (the University of Sussex and University of St. Andrews) combined with her recent research into the impact of phenomenology on sculptural practices and immersive installations, has led her to take an embodied approach to build virtual galleries. Rhoda tries to create spaces that allow for the opportunity to question matters of authenticity and aesthetics.

Adam Lockhart is a leading specialist in archiving and conservation of artists’ video and media arts. He has worked on a number of research projects in this field at DJCAD, University of Dundee and Central St Martins, College of Art & Design. He has worked as a curator, co-curator and consultant for places such as Tate Modern, Tate Britain, BFI Southbank, Dundee Contemporary Arts and Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art. He acted as David Hall’s assistant/advisor in the last few years of his life. Lockhart is also responsible for the REWIND Artists Video archive at DJCAD.