Transmission: The Distance Between Here and There
Recently I’ve been working on a proposal for a public artwork based around ‘Transmission’. The proposal is for a public art award I have been shortlisted for, called First@108, which is run by the Royal British Society of Sculptors. The winning proposal will be exhibited outside the RBS in Kensington and then outside the National Theatre on the South Bank. You can see an image of the maquette I built as it exhibited on the Facebook group here – please ‘like’ it to vote for it!
The sculpture I have proposed to make for the award has been developed as an extension of my studio practice. My research over the last two years has been focused on communication systems. I am particularly interested in how communication is mediated through technology and how our lives are affected by the Internet.
The Distance Between Here and There is an approach to the subject of ‘transmission’ from a communication studies perspective. Within communication systems, transmission consists of a message, encoded by a ‘transmitter’ and sent as a ‘signal’ to a ‘receiver’, where it is decoded and hopefully understood by the recipient.
Within the sculpture I have proposed, all three elements that comprise the transmission of information are brought together.
The ‘message’ within the work can be seen as the word spelt by the letters H E R E, or ‘here’. The ‘message’ is translated within the work, into black and white stripes painted in equal sections onto the metal I-beams. The stripes are a binary translation of the letters T H E R and E, or ‘there’, which can also be read within the triangular sections at the back of the work. These sections represent the ‘message’ as it is understood and decoded by the receiver. You will notice that parts of the letterforms are missing. There are only as many triangles within each letter as there are black stripes upon the I-beams.
When I was initially thinking about the theme ‘transmission’, I considered what we gain and lose through it. I concluded that we gain space, distance and territory, but perhaps we lose control of meaning. Through transmission, what we mean can be misunderstood, or only partially understood.
I have chosen to use the words HERE and THERE within the sculpture as their structure and meaning allow me to convey the idea of transmitting information,
over distance, with some symmetry. The work is a binary play on words. It can also be understood as a monument to binary, and to the role it plays in modern life, moving information around the world at speed, with maximum efficiency. This has led to a world saturated with information.
I have used the I-beams within the work as a metaphor for the transmission of information. They are commonly used architecturally as a supporting structure, and are nearly always covered up. In this sense they are a metaphor for the way in which computers process and transmit information as series of binary zeros and ones: always covered up and yet supporting and conveying so much.