John Gerrard (March 7 - April 3, 2015)
Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014
A mysterious structure in the heart of the Chinese desert, a precise system of roadways the size of a small town and apparently designed to be seen from orbit. For Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014, John Gerrard commissioned an American satellite-imaging firm to depth-scan these markings in order to digitally reconstruct the entire structure and its surrounding landscape. Into this simulation, set wandering through the vast road network, the artist places thirty-nine workers from a Ghangzhou computer manufacturing plant, still wearing the blue uniforms and elasticated paper bonnets from that context. Players on what may equally be read as gameboard, landscape, or gigantic theatre stage, the workers’ paths across the grid are calculated and determined by the A* algorithm, as used in GPS route finding systems.
When two participants meet, the actor closest to their goal continues walking, while the other must sit or lie on the landscape and rest. After a period lasting between 24 and 36 hours, only one remains standing. The process then draws to a close, the actors reassemble at the centre of the scene, the ground-level point of view gravitates around the worker who endured the longest, and the exercise begins anew—still without our knowing why (or for whom) this game, with its perpetual, seamless drift, is being played out. The entire performance, play, competition or exercise is depicted by three different virtual cameras: from human head height, from the point of view of a circling low-flying drone, and from a satellite’s vertical perspective. Tasked with piecing together the data they deliver, conducting a dispassionate surveillance, the viewer is telepresent, omniscient, yet strangely disconnected; a processing channel for information flows with a possibly violent intent, contemplating the scene, constructing the narrative from above, striving to penetrate the logic of the exercise. Like the site in which it takes place, this is a performance whose eerie calm secretes paranoia, uncertainty, and a creeping awareness of pervasive systems of technological control.
TEXT BY ROBIN MACKAY
Participants: Chen Gui Q. Cheng Xiao Y. Liang Yan F. Tang Yin Y. Liu Yan L. Liao Xiu R. Feng Shao L. Wu Li Y. Chen Wei P. Ma Yue R. Yuan Jian M. Ding R. Ma Yan H. Cheng Yu Q. Lan Mou J. Yang Ming S. He Wei D. Gao Xiao M. Li Jun Q. Hu Q. Chen Zhi C. Yang Zhan H. Ma Fu M. Ma Ping P. Ma Mei Y. Chen Yan F. Ma Xiao H. Tang Yu M. Ma You J. Chen Jian Z. Tang Jie L. Lou Li C. Ma Shi P. Lou H. Wang Xian G. Sun Guang M. Su Xi Z. Guo Wei L. Wu Tang S. Ma Bi R.
Producer: Werner Poetzelberger
Programmer: Helmut Bressler
Actors: Conor Lovett, Esther Balfe, Emmanuel Obeya
Motion Capture, Rigging, Additional Motion Editing: Bohemia Interactive / Štěpan Kment
Motion Capture Editing: Laura Millar
Motion Capture On Set Assistance - Martin Michal.k
3D Character Development: Preproduction / 3D-Modelling / Cloth-Simulation / Texturing / Rigging /Animation Editing: arx anima
Character Creation / Project Lead: Martin Hebestreit
Character Rigging / Technical Lead: Benedikt Lutz
Shoot Producer (Hong Kong & Guanzhou): Matthew Kwang
Shoot Producer (Dunhuang): Cesar Mejias Olmedo
Character Shoot (Guanzhou): ITR Space / Hitomi Ko, Javi Miqueleiz
Cross Polarised Shoot (Guanzhou): Wong Suk Ki
Video shoot (Guanzhou): Dima Litvinov
Satellite Scans: Satellite Imaging Corporation of Texas USA
Landscape Development: Werner Poetzelberger
Game Engine: Unigine
Commissioned by: Ahmet Kocabiyik / Borusan Contemporary & The Richard Massey Foundation for Art and Science.
Courtesy the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York