Monday, 13 June 2016

Mobile phone monument

I tooed and froed over 2008 between painting still life , drawing, working on various digital compositions and also sculpture , more specifically casting mobile phones in plaster and cement. 

The mobile phone mausoleum idea came to me after a long email exchange with Cecilia Moore . She was putting together an exhibition called 'My Space' , which would tour Ireland in various locations . ( website for Cecilia Moores 'My Space' can be found here

 I read about her project first through the Visual artists Ireland newsletter in which as I recall she asked for small sculptures or ideas which could be displayed in perspex boxes in different situations . I had lots of ideas left over from the Colourkeeper film , one of which was a still I had put together using an old Motorola phone as a backing for an exchange of messages between the protagonists in the film. I liked the idea that you could create a dialog between two or more phones which though de-contextualised and disembodied could reveal the state of a relationship between two or more people, almost along the same lines as my final degree show piece ( the original still is reproduced below ) .

From this idea I talked with Cecilia through email about mounting mobile phones within one of her boxes and organizing them so that they would display messages which would create a kind of dialog which could be read as threatening or otherwise , the progress of an argument conducted through electronic media , with no phone facing another so it would be impossible to know anything about when a message had arrived or been sent or who had sent it . 

This idea seemed to work so I set about trying to find a way to make it work physically , investigating power supplies ( as there would be no power supply available) , which eventually led me into discussion with the guy in Tullamore I used to get my computer gear from about uninterruptible power supplies ( basically big batteries ) and whether they would be able to power four mobile phones over the course of the exhibit existing . It turned out then that this wasn't possible , so I had to go back and propose a different idea to Cecilia Moore , which was similar theme but the idea of dead messages , mobile phones having become such a part of our lives , even discarded and battery dead they still hold a memory of our conversations. Which lead me to the idea of first making a mausoleum for dead phones ( I'd been reading a really good book I'd found on the origins and progress of Greek sculpture ) collected from obliging phone shops ( they were very helpful) and then when I realized I wouldn't have enough casting the phones themselves in plaster and cement.

The casting process was very crude , using a combination of wax , plasticine and play dough as moulds then pouring in roughly mixed cement or plaster. Crude but it worked . The same for the mausoleum itself .

 The finished piece has never been exhibited for one reason or another , there was a lot happening in my life at the time so I think maybe it was just one of those ideas that was doomed to be lost as soon as the initial idea proved un-doable . I did later on go around Tullamore and place a few of the phone casts in odd places just to see how they would weather and survive . I actually came across someone taking down one from where I had left it on a wall near the train station , the broken parts later to found around the car park - I'd also left one upstairs in the local shopping center , I had a vague notion of creating some ongoing intervention like we had enacted in Winchester but I lost interest in the whole thing and started painting again.

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