The ICA London, present the first UK solo institutional exhibition, Lives on Wire, by British artist Eloise Hawser. The artist reconfigures and repurposes commonplace materials applied in industrial processes to create sculpture and installations that subtly demonstrate the inherent mutability of everyday objects. For Lives on Wire, Eloise Hawser presents a site-specific installation featuring new sculpture and a digital video work developed through her investigative research into the life span of the cinema organ. The British telephone engineer Robert Hope Jones invented the device in the early twentieth century. It was a staple machine during the silent movie era until it was later replaced after the introduction of synchronised sound.
The exhibition title derives from a passage of text in a silent documentary about the John Compton Organ Factory in London. The evocative statement is presented in a font that was typical of this era. The text was originally used in the film to describe the cabling section area of the factory. It is intended to attribute human form to the machinery that ‘lives on wire’. The documentary encapsulates the paradox of an instrument that was briefly in fashion, although it embodied a wealth of electromechanical mechanisms and principles that are still prevalent in today’s machinery.
The new work by Eloise Hawser 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. 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 she explores the potential for obsolete objects to be appropriated and transformed for contemporary use. The exhibition is currently underway at the ICA London and will run until the 6th September. You can find more information about the exhibition on their website here.
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