Installation Talk and Workshop with Tom Martin

Installation Talk and Workshop with Tom Martin.

In the talk we were shown examples of artist’s who create installations.


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Rachael Whiteread, Embankment 2005 –  This work shows her obsession with boxes. The collection of boxes create ice like structures that transform the space. The boxes contain themes as she cast the interior of the boxes but these can never be fully seen. The boxes filled the turbine hall of the Tate Modern but allowed space for the viewer to walk through and the incluion of the viewer becomes part of the work. This piece is an example of a mundane object sparking off an idea. 

There is a great book that charts Whiteread’s recording of her fascination with the cardboard box – Look this up

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Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, 2010 – The floor of a room covered in handmade sunflower seeds. Playing with the preciousness of objects. Each individual seed was crafted and painted by hand. Originally people where allowed to walk on the seeds but then they put a barrier up. Therefore this was an installation that was crying out for interaction however people weren’t allowed to interact with it which created a mixture of messages.

Think about barriers between the work and the viewer and the power of this. Do you invite people into the work or restrict them? How do you do with visual signals as apposed to a written sign?

Weiwei’s work here looks also at the idea of treasure. The preciousness of the object is heightened by the fact they are all handmade. This piece also looks at the importance of the collection and collecting. The obsession of collecting. The urge to find one of these seeds is strong. You want to find one and keep it as a souvenir. Think about this… Do I want the viewer to be able to take something away with them from my exhibition? Something more than a business card – a real souvenir? This is a way to enable the exhibition to be more memorable for the viewer but also allow the work to have a life outside the exhibition.

4e11a83c169a6 Antony-Gormleys-Field-for-004

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Anthony Gormley, European Field, 1993 – Juxtaposition of the classic exhibition space with this work which takes over it, could be seen as an infiltration of an establishment. The barrier is seen again as the piece restricts your access to the gallery. It is a mass which is absorbing.



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Anish Kapoor, Svayambh, 2007 – continuing the idea of an infiltration of an established institutional space. This piece shows the passing of time as the build up of wax on the walls and floor shows an event constantly taking place.



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Anish Kapoor, Shooting into the Corner, 2008-9 – This piece involved wax being splattered by a cannon where the substance builds up over time. It looks gory because of it’s resemblance to flesh and blood.

Think about this idea of positioning something in a space where it creates itself. Allowing a process to occur within a space.



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Teresa Margolles, Rushing but not Rushed, 2009 – This piece seems like it is someone just washing a floor, many viewers may walk through thinking it is not even a piece of work at all however if you do happen to read the information about it this suddenly turns into a horror and has a profound effect on you as a viewer. The water being on the floor is the same water used to wash corpses and this residue builds up over time. Although there seems to be no physical piece of work, instead her idea is seeping through the very fabric of the building and makes you think about morality and death.

Think about what the written statement brings to the piece? How much or little of the story do I tell in this? 

Theatrical Display


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Teresa Margolles, Plancha, 2010 –  juxtaposition of beauty and horror. the piece looks beautiful, draws you to go close and then you find out what the water is. You read the caption and your imagination takes off. in a way the full creation of the work is in the viewers head.

0733_blindlight_2007_001Blind Light

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Anthony Gormley, Blind Light, 2007 – This piece makes you feel like you have entered another world and you are suddenly aware of the space within you.


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Martin Creed, Work no 200, 2014 – His work is full of fun and playfulness. In this piece a room is filled with balloons. these balloons contain half of the volume of the air that fills room. I was fortunate enough to experience this piece at the Hayward Gallery last year and it was such a fun experience but also very strange as you could hear people around you but not see them. You are totally immersed within the balloons. At times it can get a bit claustrophobic as the mass of balloons makes you feel disorientated, walking though the balloons was a strange feeling as the balloons get underfoot and between your legs and also because your vision is blocked by balloons  I found it hard to find my ways out. The balloons also made my hair go all static and I felt a bit lost in a haze. This piece created such a powerful and memorable experience for me as iI travelled though many different emotions while within the balloons. At first I felt excited , then strange and after some time within them I became a bit anxious.


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Karina Smi Gla – Bobinski, Analogue Interactive Installation, 2010 – This was a massive helium filled balloon which has lots of charcoal sticks jutting out of it which draw on the wall as the bubble moves. The space is crucial for this piece as the marks depend on how the ball moves in the space. A large space would produce very different results to a space where the balloon fits quite snugly within it (as seen in the picture above). The artist lets the object create the work but has some control though the choice of space.

For installations the choice of space is critical. Space and work is tied totally together.


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Martin Creed, Work No 1092, 2011 – A spinning structure that starts slowly and then gets faster and just clears the space. It is playful and makes you feel disorientated as you can’t help but duck when the thing swings over your head as it feels like it’s going to hit you despite the fact you know it can’t.


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George Rousse, Rüsselsheim, 2003 – An intensity of colour and shape that creates an optical illusion. The circular form can only be seen from one angle. The artist colours them and continues existing shapes within the building to make the image believable however when you look closely you see that many of the shapes don’t match, he actually makes up most lines up and the structure doesn’t make sense. Although a lot of time was spent creating this piece in the building, this was never seen by the public. The photo seen above recorded the work and became the work.

Think about how I record my installations and their life beyond the degree show.


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Jesus Raphael Soto, Nylon Cube, 1990 – This piece was in the Radical Geometry Exhibitition at the RA. You seem to see a cube within the structure but as you move around it, it fluctuates. It was positioned well to react to other pieces of work which is something to think about. How each part of the installation works together and how it works with the surrounding work and building?


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Edmund de Waal, A Thousand Hours, 2012 – Installation made up of small finger sized pots which are a direct reaction to his hand. In this piece he was enclosed the ceramic pots within a cabinet and many of his pieces fit within other structures. Eg. in the V&A main entrance the dome above there is a red girder within this and his pots are lined within it.

The museum like victrine he has used to in the work shown above has levels and the positioning is the artists way of controlling how the viewer sees the work. The top level allows you to only see the footprint of the pots while the bottom level can only be seen if you lye on the floor. He has avoided using eye level and makes the viewer work to see things. He is creating barriers that force the viewer to journey around the piece on a quest to see the objects within.

Think about how I am going to position objects to control how people view them.

Object+Display=Important – Plan this in advance!! Make a drawn out plan now as installation art is a thoughtful, slow process.

 From the Freud Museum 1991-6 by Susan Hiller born 19407fb413eb49e55a26e2c9faaf4447cff2

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Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-6 –  She used the idea of the Freud Museum to show hr own objects. Each box contains small objects, like an archive – the opening is the moment of reveal. The viewer is in close proximity to the work. Think about ways to bring the viewer into the work you have made.

The association between things..

Pitt Rivers and The John Soane Museum are good examples of museums that use an eclectic, non taxonomic display – you start to form stories from the associations between the objects.


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Herbert Distell, The Museum of Drawers, 1977 – Miniature installation. Compartments given to different artists each 2 inches wide. Unknown and well known artists put together to form a very democratic collection. Some artist’s dealt with spaces like miniature galleries and others put dominant objects in there to fill the space.

The idea of the cabinet = Museology, Archiving, Spacing.

IMG_4820 Wunderkammer_1

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Tom Martin – Wunderkammer, 2013 – Made his own museum, an archive within drawers. Each draw contains interactive pieces of work where people can move pieces around and arrange them how they wish. He includes a visual sign – the rack of gloves to hint to people that these pieces are to be touched. This is a delicate way of steering the viewer to interact with the piece. Think about how I get people to touch things without telling them to do it. Do you want things to get destroyed or not? Make precautions to accommodate this. Tom expressed how the preparation of the space is crucial for his work to make the background a pure white space. He emphasised that it is important to allow a lot of time to prepare an installation, think about how long it will take to create the work, to set it up and anticipate problems – give yourself extra weeks for this.

Installation/Display set up workshop:

After the talk we all chose an object and a piece of our work to form as display that we curated as a group. (See the pictures above) I chose to bring one of my rocks and a book of drawings of the rocks as I thought these two object’s compliment eachother as they relate and play around with the 2D and 3D, the relationship between the object and its drawing. Within the set up we learnt lots of important practical points from Tom about setting up an installation.

  • Spend time within the space when setting up and rearrange. Sometimes good to have a break and come back to it when you might see it differently.
  • The proximity of things is very important and how the object’s relate to eachother.
  • Think about the relationships between objects and also the relationship between the objects and what they sit on.
  • Do you want to line things up or have them off line? Symmetrical or not? Balanced or unbalanced? Fill all the space ie have it clustered or have lots of open space? The former is a characteristic of the Wunderkammer, organised but compact, a form of display that I have been researching and have a strong interest in. Continue to think about incorporating this in my display.
  • Hang things at eyeline.

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