Casting Time

Working with Margaret Stewart, Jane Macdonald and Jules Rawlinson, we have developed an artwork for the Cast Contemporaries exhibition that is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

The exhibition provides a response, reinterpreting Edinburgh College of Art’s cast collection – one of the most important in the UK – through the perspective of contemporary works, films and educational workshops. Cast Contemporaries is a collaboration between artist Chris Dorsett and Margaret Stewart, curator of the Collection at the College.

Casting Time

The show features a ‘real-time’ digital representation of the nude in the studio. A computer mediates the scene’s place in time by controlling the image that is displayed on the LCD screen.

Moving forward in historical time from Antiquity, the tableaux recall changing art historical styles. Graeco-Roman casts were the most common source for the classical standard in traditional art, and so casts remained a primary source for paintings and sculpture. The same poses recur throughout history and are augmented by newly invented poses recognisable in influential pictures. The final tableau recalls the Trustees Academy – the forerunner institution of the Edinburgh College of Art. It also recalls the end of the classical tradition and the beginning of the modern period in art history.

The intervention of the computer that mediates the speed at which images are relayed from the studio and creates a temporal disruption that places the live model out of ‘real time’. Rather like the casts themselves that have changed little in 100 years throughout the life of the college, the model is now rendered as a statue, cast in time.

The set is located in the studio which the President of the Royal Scottish Academy had at the College in the early 20th century, and it is furnished with casts, artefacts, and from time-to-time a life model. The objects are from the College’s Wardrobe and Natural History collection – the last surviving art school wardrobe in Scotland.

The ‘set’ will be visible at all times, and the life model will be ‘in pose’ on the following dates between 10am and 5pm (allowing for rest and lunch breaks):

Schedule
Tuesday 14 Trial
Friday 17 Antiquity I
Saturday 18 Antiquity II
Sunday 19 Titian
Saturday 25 Titian
Sunday 26 Ingres and Delacroix
Friday 31 Manet and Maja
Sunday 2 Courbet and Orchardson

Reminding us of the role that the cast collection has played in the art college as models for drawing and painting, the digital artwork offers a contemporary frame within we can reflect upon them as elements within compositions.

Network technologies have placed pressure on the concept of ‘real-time’, delays due to technical latency across networks, differences in connections both in resolution and speed, and the financial frameworks which enable access according to cost have all contributed to the collapse of the technical and cultural concept of ‘real-time’. In many ways the cast collection offers an example of a series of historical artefacts that remain in circulation, ghosts in the machine or glitches in cultural time and space, not yet locked up in a museum they may be considered one of the slowest technologies that the college possesses.

The studio located within the College of Art is used to construct a scene referential to historical paintings that use casts or reference their poses. Aware of the available natural northern light, the studio is streamed using a high definition camera to an equally high definition LCD screen to the gallery. Unable to access the studio the digital representation is the only means of accessing the space.

Central to each scene is the life model who is ‘cast’ within the scene to mimic poses and recover the role of a live model drawing that continues to this day in the college. However the model’s image appears slowly on the screen that is located within the gallery. Taking almost two minutes to arrive, the sense of real-time is disrupted despite the clear flesh tones on our real-life model. Minor movements in the model between each image give clues to the process but also remind us of how ‘still’ life models aren’t, despite the suspension of disbelief that the artist who is drawing the model has to sustain.

As a young art student I remember the illusion of stillness that was generated in the life drawing studio and the job of ourselves as young artists to master the production of an image that best froze the idea of what was before us. Even when we knew that the model had moved even slightly. Initially arriving at Casting Time the model could be in real time because she is supposed to be still, and it is only when the screen refreshes over her do you realise (due to her slight movement) that the image is not live.

In developing the piece we were also aware of the multiple meanings for the word cast and the peculiar embodiment of a stillness that the Edinburgh Cast collection has taken on despite us knowing that to cast is to literary throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction. Keen to recover these temporal dynamics and an age when the casts were more animated as they were wheeled into studios to be drawn and painted, it seemed obvious that we should adopt a web casting technology to represent them in the exhibition. Webcasting and broadcasting technologies are rarely considered as having material properties, but in many ways our slow-scan web cast is all about a representation of time and subject as having a material latency.

See the work whilst you can, we very pleased with it despite it attracting a notice that warns visitors that the exhibition contains nudity!

Title: Casting Time
By: Margaret Stewart, Chris Speed, Jane Macdonald & Jules Rawlinson
Date: 2012
Medium: Max/MSP Jitter software
Technical details: Tableau featuring cast, life model, furniture streamed in real-time using web camera, Mini Mac x 2 and LCD screen.
Image: John K. McGregor / Chris Speed © Edinburgh College of Art

74 Lauriston Place, EH3 9DF
0131 221 6000
www.eca.ac.uk

Mon—Sun, 10—5pm
Free admission

Comments are closed.

Related posts

New Economic Imaginaries
New Economic Imaginaries

Amongst the works that have emerged through the ‘after money’ related projects which inc


Apocalyptic Design in the Capitalocene: Every-day Geopolitics and Blockchain
Apocalyptic Design in the Capitalocene: Every-day Geopolitics and Blockchain

OxChain conference paper at Postcards from the Anthropocene June 22-24, Edinburgh Chris Speed &


Plastic Dinosaurs
Plastic Dinosaurs

Short 7 minute talk / intervention into the Talbot Rice Gallery / Exponential event on the 24th of A


Things2Things and the KASH Cup
Things2Things and the KASH Cup

As the term the Internet of Things reached peak hype according to Gartner in the summer of 2016, a c


ArtCasting: Where does it take you?
ArtCasting: Where does it take you?

In 1991, during my undergraduate Fine Art degree at Brighton Polytechnic I was part of a small three


Bodystorming the BlockChain
Bodystorming the BlockChain

Context In April Design Informatics was invited to develop a Lab of Labs for Martyn de Waals Design


Practising the Block Chain
Practising the Block Chain

For the past year I have been working with Debbie Maxwell (now York Uni) and Dug Campbell (Bitcoin S


ThingTank
ThingTank

Way back in September 2013, I joined a week long ideas retreat in Moscow to develop solutions toward


Ghost Cinema App: Temporal Ubiquity and the Condition of Being in Everytime
Ghost Cinema App: Temporal Ubiquity and the Condition of Being in Everytime

Last year Chris Barker and I worked on the Cinematic Geographies of Battersea: Urban Interface and S


PuBliC: Future Everything one day living labs (x2)
PuBliC: Future Everything one day living labs (x2)

During the Future Everything festival February 2015 Design Informatics were invited to develop and d