Inside Installations: Mapping the Studio II
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WORK IN FOCUS Planning and Installation

Planning and installation

The way a work of art is presented in an exhibition space is extremely important to how that work is seen. All works of art are vulnerable to the conditions of their display.  However, installation art is particularly vulnerable as the exhibition space has a greater impact on its presentation and its successful realisation depends on a number of details which are recreated each time it is installed.   

Display technology

Understanding the technology used in the work is essential to the success of the installation. The relationship of the display technology to the identity of a time-based media installation differs from work to work. In some cases the technology used is important because it affects the look of the work or because of a particular relationship of meaning that is created by the use of certain equipment. In other cases the display equipment is purely functional in effectively rendering the sound and picture. However even in cases where the equipment is only thinly specified by the artist, as is the case with MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift,  flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), it is important to recognise that different equipment, especially projectors, will affect the appearance of the image.

In planning for the display Tate’s Conservation Department worked closely with Michael Short to ensure that the projectors which were proposed for the display were suitable. In making the choice, sections of the video footage were looked at through a number of different projectors set up alongside each other. A Sharp projector was then chosen because it rendered the colours well. Find out more about the projector used in the Notes

When the work is shown, the signal is fed to the projectors from seven DVD players. The DVD’s are not synchronised but instead start more or less together when powered up in the morning. There is a slight variation in the length of the seven DVDs. If the piece is shown more than once a day – for example, on days when Tate Modern is open late – and the DVDs are played on continuous loop or repeat, they will not all restart at the same time, causing a drift in timing.  This means that there will always be variations in the combination of images that are playing at any given moment.

The mono sound is fed from the DVD players through seven amplifiers to fourteen speakers (two speakers per image) which are placed unobtrusively above the projected images, angled downwards. The sound is specific to each video location and when played together in the installation represents a composite of the sound recorded in the seven locations at different times.

Planning and Installation

Once the projectors, audio equipment and the gallery where the work will be exhibited have been chosen, plans are drawn up to explore possible configurations of the work in that particular space.

Roll-over the highlighted areas of the plan to see more details.

To view a more detailed plan of the installation download this PDF.

This diagram shows the north wall elevation of the installation in Tate Modern. Roll over the highlighted areas to see more details.

To view a more detailed plan of the elevation download this PDF.

The basic ingredients of  MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift, flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) 2001 are straight forward in that there are certain “given” elements of the installation. The aspects of the work which have been described as “given” are the fact that the space should be a rectangle and should reference the dimensions of Bruce Nauman’s studio. It is also important that there is an entrance and exit each end of the space, so it is possible for the viewer to walk through the piece. The images are as large as possible whilst allowing approximately half a meter between each image. 15cm is the distance from the floor to the bottom of the image. The space is dark and should be free from distractions such as fire extinguishers. The projectors should be hung in such a way that the visitor is not blinded when they walk into the room. The audio should fill the space. The contrast and brightness of the projectors should be maximised for each image to work best with the individual images at all shifts of colour.

Often an artist or their representative will work with museum staff when planning the installation, making adjustments and finding solutions for what is not working.  Adjustments might involve reducing the amount of light in the room in order to maintain the contrast of the images, modifying the entrance and exit spaces, or altering a room’s dimensions. The ceiling of the gallery used to install this work at Tate is very high, so a false stretch fabric ceiling was installed. The projectors were then suspended from brackets, at a distance carefully calculated from wall and floor to ensure that they did not intrude on any of the images.

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- VIDEO: Michael Short discussing adjustments to the light and contrast of the projected images in the installation at Tate

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For further details on the display specifications please download this PDF.