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 Eloise Hawser, Lives on Wire, ICA London
Artlyst Photo Special: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire ICA London - ArtLyst Article image

Artlyst Photo Special: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire ICA London

23-07-2015
 
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Artlyst likes to keep its eye on emerging artists in the capital, and with that in mind we attended the first UK solo institutional exhibition, Lives on Wire, by British artist Eloise Hawser. The artist presents a site-specific installation featuring a new kinetic and electromechanical sculpture and a digital video piece, created after Hawser's investigative research into the life-span of the cinema organ.

Image: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire Installation View, 2015, Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015

The device was invented in the early 20th century by the British telephone engineer Robert Hope Jones, prior to the film industry’s introduction of synchronised sound, the mechanism employed the principles of the telephone exchange, it was developed to replace cinema orchestras and reduce manpower with an individual console and organist.

Image: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire Installation View, 2015, Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015

It worked by issuing electric and pneumatic signals from a keyboard console to a remote rank of pipes and instruments established within the infrastructure of the cinema building. Many of these instruments, due to their scale and complexity, remain silently embedded within the architecture of former cinemas to this day.

Image: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire Installation View, 2015, Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015

The exhibition title derives from a passage of text in a silent documentary about the John Compton Organ factory in London. The statement describes the cabling section area of the factory, and attributes human form to the machinery that ‘lives on wire’.

Image: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire Installation View, 2015, Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015

Hawser’s new work seeks to analyse the theoretical and physical attributes of a variable electronic resistor used to illuminate the art deco surround of the instrument during cinematic performances, known as the cinema organ colour changer.

Image: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire Installation View, detail, 2015, Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015

For the exhibition, the relationship between the colour changer mechanism and the illuminated console is re-established and demonstrated using the ICA’s Lower Gallery lighting system, to control the colour and intensity of the gallery's lights. In doing so, Hawser explores the potential for obsolete objects to be appropriated and transformed for contemporary use, a process often referred to as skeuomorphism.

Image: Eloise Hawser, Lives On Wire Installation View, detail, 2015, Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015

Accompanying the re-animated colour-changer is a digital video work that surveys and examines an existing cinema organ in its original installation, a building which has now become a Regent's Street store, illustrating the disembodiment of the machine from cultural consciousness and its passage from sound-producing object to silent relic.

About the artist:

Eloise Hawser graduated from The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford in 2007, the artist's work reconfigures and repurposes commonplace materials applied in industrial processes to create sculptures and installations that subtly demonstrate the inherent mutability of everyday objects.

Eloise Hawser: Lives on Wire - ICA London - until 6 September 2015


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