The Source*

Doug Aitken
Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock
15th September - 25th November 2012
Free Entry

Reviewed by Sandra Gibson

Doug Aitken’s first public installation in the UK is housed in a purpose built pavilion** on the Albert Dock. It consists of a circle of several projection screens on which high profile cultural people simultaneously discuss the roots of their ideas, with Aitken as their interviewer. The viewer moves from screen to screen, from interview to interview or waits for the next interviewee to appear on the same screen. Musician Jack White, actress Tilda Swinton and late artist Mike Kelley are among the people involved. The interviews are all of equal length and when they stop they stop together, so the presentation is punctuated with moments of silence until the whole thing sets off again.

At night the pavilion takes on a new appearance: the internal screens become visible through the semi-transparent walls.

Why weren’t the interviews presented as one consecutive programme? I think the point is that this installation is not simply about conveying information and ideas. The hubbub of every creative person speaking at once forms the verbally animated background against which the viewer listens to one in particular, whilst being able to scan the rest, aurally and visually. And the point is perfectly valid. However, in my case I found it difficult to hear the individual against the rest, even though I dutifully stood where they suggested, for optimum experience. So I was meant to hear it. I heard enough to kindle my interest and the backgrounds to the filmed interviews were aesthetically pleasing, as were the interspersed film clips of their work. But I didn’t hear enough and I wanted to hear and I suppose that this is better than not trying and just going away angry - my point being that taking in cultural ideas can require an effort which many are reluctant to make.

One idea involved a hero of mine: Zidane. During one single football match 38 photographers all focussed on him for the entire match. The artist who commissioned this then went through all of the photographs and made a selection from the 38 viewpoints. I don’t know what the object was - did I mention I couldn’t hear it very well - but I wouldn’t have minded seeing all those photos of this marvellous footballer.

I would also be interested to know what the after-dark experience of the pavilion is like: is it merely visual or can the voices be heard? If so, how clearly?

*Sky Arts Ignition:
**Designed in collaboration with British architect David Adjaye OBE

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed