Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day (cleanskies) wrote,
Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day

Carsten Holler : the future is toyetic / dinosaur decisions

For our wedding anniversary this year we went to the Southbank to be locked in the Hayward Gallery overnight, and sleep in moving sculpture/installation Two Roaming Beds (Grey) by Carsten Holler. This was part of larger exhibition called Decision, which is entered via door A or door B. You've paid in advance, and there's a huge queue behind you so you can't baulk at the doors. You have to choose.

In the spirit of the show, I have two perspectives, so you can choose which/order to read.

full superman

Carsten Holler : The Future is Toyetic

To be locked in the gallery overnight is one of those childhood fantasies, like being able to walk into a mirror or on the ceiling, or into the space between walls. It hints at the horror of the unexplored, while wrapping you in a safe, controlled, environment. It is the performance of adventure. The first thing I did when the attendants (having strapped us into the flying machine, introduced us to the artworks like a maitre d' talking up a tasting menu, laughed at our attempts to walk around in upside-down goggles, flung us down the slides eight times and explained the limitations and potentials of the robot beds (non-herdable, theoretically ramp climbing, can be turned off but not by you) in detail) was test the door. It was firmly locked. We were in for the night.

Getting ready to fly logo shot

sneaky!!! carsten holler slides

The attendant attended section of the show felt a bit indulgent (at one time five attendants, including a manager, were hovering around us) but I think the opening of this strangely bifurcated exhibition to only two people was an act of deliberate will on the part of the artist, a care package for works that need at minimum a participant and an observer to keep them ticking over. In fact, our staffing was light. By day, the slides and flying machines run as parallel process, two sliding, two flying. We had only had one open, and performed in series our slow and dreamlike flights; our fast and fabulous descents.

carsten holler slides carsten holler slides carsten holler slides carsten holler slides

As we exited the slides, we were heckled and cheered by a gang of feather-draped rainbow-clad ladies come over from Pride. I think the security guard got a phone number.

Back at the beds, our dream-inducing toothpaste was waiting. This came in two flavours, Male (predominantly white truffle) and Female (predominantly Salvia) with a tube of activator, like Araldite. Use of the toothpaste presented problems. The gallery toilets had only hot water, the staff bathroom would involve turning the key in the lift and breaking the locked-in fiction. There was a water fountain next to the pill clock, but nowhere to spit. I still have the toothpaste, if anyone fancies a taste.

the pinocchio effect you never say the same as me

legs and head fly agaric view up

We decided to walk the ducting again, from the wrong end. The ducting takes you into the gallery by an insanely circuitous route that seems far too long to fit inside the room. Twists and turns dizzy you. You exit to be immediately confronted by a orrery the size of a Witch's Hat roundabout made of flying magic mushrooms. On corridor is dark, and the other light. This time it was my turn to go dark. At the end of the duct I eventually found the glass doors, firmly locked, smears of light from the South Bank dribbling through the glassy foyer. No passers by. On the way back through in the booming dark my almost-dormant claustrophobia woke and I speeded up, and smacked into my own reflection on a tricky bend. Like the wall of Oculus Rifts set up to show you a scene that gradually diverged the data going into your right and left eyes; dislocating; eerie; faintly alarming; designed to make your brain scribble in random data to fill the gaps.

roaming beds: distant interaction ready for beds

mechanism 2 charge point for phone

And so, to the main attraction; the beds, slowly circumnavigating the gallery, antennae whiskers on their corners preventing collision, a gentle slaving interaction swapping them into follower and leader throughout the night, emitting gentle creaking sounds like a sailboat at rest. They never stopped moving, so you had to board them, and using the integrated lockers or taking off your socks involved gentle, soothing pursuit. I slept despite the constant movement, and the banks of lights which flickered on and off through the night like a giant immersive dream machine. Deep sleep without dreams, cradled by machines, my inner nomad calmed by the movement, my inner caveman enclosed by the bedwalls. The absence of dreams created a kind of absence of alarm; it felt as if my processing capability had been slaved to a giant machine, and used through the night, benevolently, to keep the art going, through the night.

delighted ceratopsians, uncertain sauropod

Carsten Holler: Dinosaur Decisions

On the way out of the house it occurred to me that if you are locked in a gallery overnight you really ought to be doing something that is normally a bit difficult to do in the gallery. Something that would not create alarm when viewed through CCTV, nor come under the ejection umbrella of inappropriate behaviour, and something which could expand or contract to fill the time as needed. The blingin' dinosaur gang (below) were made partly as an act of mourning for my diamante dinosaur earring (sadly lost at the V&A Bowie retrospective) and partly because my little sister requested a Diamante Dimetrodon for her last birthday, and partly because once you have a sheet of jewels and a tube of superglue, you might as well carry on sticking them to plastic dinosaurs. I spotted them on my desk, swept them into a small carry case, and took them to the gallery, where they got to enjoy Decision - heroic scale.

unpacking the dinosaurs scaffolding tubes group shot 1

I found a pill on a post oculus rift operator

die dinosaur python poses looking out over the South Bank

pinocchio effect Team photograph

You can see the full set of Dinosaur Decision photographs on flickr - the slideshow button is on the top right, although I think you'll end up seeing them in reverse order, starting with posing on the Creed in the Ladies and ending with the stairs on the way in, but a little confusion is to be expected when so many sparkly dinosaurs are making so many difficult decisions.

  • it's another gig of course - plus other news

    Yes, so we have another gig - It's all about the Music this Friday which seems to have jumped up on me rather - sorry for the short notice. It's…

  • gig alert : gig alert : remote community 5/2/2021

    We actually have a gig! We are playing (performance-from-home) this Friday 5th Feb (gig from 7.30pm, we're on at 9.30pm) on Instagram live right over…


    I finally got round to emptying the last of my destroyed camera. I'd broken it shortly before going into isolation, pre-op, at an exhibition which I…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.