Andy Wake's contribution to Nought to Sixty
Andy Wake (born Dundee, 1978, lives in Dundee and Glasgow) produces videos, drawings, texts and sculptures, for both exhibition and performance formats. Yet Wake's body of work appears to rebel against the confines of these forms of display. Rather, the artist seeks to thwart the observer's ability to experience the work within a finite encounter.
Engaged in the crossover between the categories of artwork, artefact and prop, Wake works with an array of objects which he recasts in constantly changing contexts – props for video occasionally go on to appear in sculptural installations, or video monitors might later integrate with sculptural objects. Building up a series of loose leitmotifs, Wake re-works meanings, titles and media over different displays. Time is conceived as nonlinear; subjected to the mechanics of video technology, it appears scattered, folded, cyclical.
The installation The Basest Horn of His Hoof is More Musical than the Pipe of Hermes, 2007, is based on one of Wake's recurring objects – a large structure resembling the shape of an old gramophone trumpet, positioned centrally on a stage. The structure's front face reveals a projection screen with a closed-circuit strobing image showing the internal space of the sealed object. The sporadic image lurches in and out of legibility as the flashing light disrupts the camera's auto-focus. This eye of surveillance – and the implicit sense of mistrust that accompanies it – is turned inwards on itself, yet fails to distinguish anything except a fitfully illuminated void. The moving image is doomed to the continual failure of its own mechanics.
The work's title, taken from Shakespeare's Henry V, cites another of Wake's frequent reference points – the Greek god Hermes, a shape-shifter who has the ability to cross the thresholds of the divine and the human, the sacred and profane, under a cloak of invisibility. Wake, fascinated by the mutability of this fi gure, created Trickster Cycle, 2007, a video that explores the various legends of the Greek god. In this work and The Basest Horn, the artist fuses his interest in quasi-scientific narratives and mythological order with investigations of recorded and real time. Extending the early experiments in closed-circuit televisions, as well as the instant feedback loop employed by artists such as Dan Graham and Vito Acconci, Wake is less interested in the process and materiality of his work than in how objects and technology can be exploited to collapse time-based perception – and activate the Romantic imagination.
For Nought to Sixty, Wake presents an event that seeks to evade the temporal parameters of live performance. Stretching, looping and condensing the audience's perception of time through a combination of prerecorded and live footage, sculptural interventions and performance, the project gestures beyond the hermeticism of a single event. Underscoring the impossibility of pure presence, Wake's performance pushes the observer's sense of becoming into an experience of belatedness.