Elizabeth McAlpine
Square Describing A Circle, Art Statements, Art Basel
16 Jun 2010 – 20 Jun 2010

Cinema, and photography, on which it rests – are obsessively materialist media. They insist upon the presence of an object, in the world, in time. They rely on the concrete nature of being in the world; you have to film something, you have to be present, you have to select your subject and, by capturing it, you pull that subject out of time.

Elizabeth McAlpine insists on this presence in her work; the presence of the film, the viewing apparatus and the integral role of the viewer. Her work is resolutely sculptural and has at its core subject the two essential elements of film: light and time. For Square Describing a Circle, this presence is articulated, and even pinpointed, it occurred from 7 am to 7 pm, London, 10th May 2010. Square Describing a Circle (10th May) began with the notion of a shadow of a perfect square, and the artists attempt to capture that fleeting moment, the rarity of that alignment.

Using a square stencil, McAlpine filmed, in Super 8mm, the sunlight cast onto the same spot of gravel pathway in Hyde Park, London, moving the stencil a degree at a time during the course of the day, in an attempt to maintain a square projection of light. Two projectors are positioned facing each other, one is held at an angle of 45 degrees, on a structure made from black glass and steel. The looped film runs simultaneously through the two projectors and the glass structure, which functions as both a support for the projectors, a looping device for the film, as well as a screen shared by both projections.

McAlpine filmed six frames of square light and six frames of no light, during each degree of rotation. The result is a film of a flickering square beam of light. McAlpine then dynamically transforms this square shape, by turning a projector on its side, and the sharing of one screen, to create an animation. The square rotates, and alludes to the shape of a circle. This transformation occurs in front of the viewer, a moment that reveals the apparatus and process, and rethinks our understanding of how we experience cinema.

With Square Describing a Circle (Film Stack, 10th May), McAlpine seeks to statically embody and represent the passage of that same twelve-hour time period. The work takes the form of a stack of 181 cards held in place by a steel spine, which, like the film frames of Square Describing a Circle, each represent one degree (4 minutes) of the earths’ rotation around the sun. On each card a shape has been cut away that corresponds to the shape of a shadow cast by a square at a specific time. Film Stack takes a geological approach to time, the spiralling hollow created by the cut away shapes in the centre of the column allow movement, and passage and relate back to the sedimentary, layered nature of cinema.

A series of monoprints relating to this work also exists, Square Describing a Circle (Leaves, 10th May), 2010
Elizabeth McAlpine (b.1973) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include Capturing Time, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, Unpacking My Library, Te Tuhi Center for the Arts, New Zealand, Morning News, Be-Part, Ghent, East International, Norwich School of Art, Double Object, Thomas Dane, London, Forthcoming projects include Words, Performance programme at Barbican, London and a solo exhibition in October at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London.

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