The aPANOPTICON is a sculptural artwork which functions as a ,viewer operated, remotely controlled, miniature art gallery. It enables the viewer to explore its hidden contents and to view the results in the form of a projected live video on an adjacent wall. The aPANOPTICON took nine months to design and construct and had its debut in the "Anti Gallery Gallery Show" at the Espacio Gallery in January 2015.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Jane: reflections on the aPanopticon

Some final thoughts about the aPanopticon and how it worked for me as a medium of display.

Inside the installation - without covers
Inside the installation - with covers in place
This piece is the tallest object I placed inside. The metal lines of its construction form visual cues that tend to lead the operator to view it up and down. I realised this piece is interesting in this context because you cannot see the object in its entirety. This transforms the viewers experience of the object from the norm.This is the only object that was true of, and I realised that I would have liked to have placed one or two other objects that were larger than the view of the camera.
aPanopticon projection image
This shows the aPanopticon view of the same piece. Not so apparent at the live viewing (probably because I was focussed on operating the aPanopticon) but visible in the photograph is the blue in the top left of the image. This is the blue of the object as projected onto the wall, but seen through the canvas of the covering of the aPanopticon. This has occurred by chance because of the strong colour of the object, but also its positioning inside - so that the image of itself is repeated when the camera is pointing at this position inside. I wonder if this could be exploited further in any way when choosing or placing objects inside the aPanopticon? Or by changing the size or position of the projection, and/or the relative transparancy of the aPanopticon covering.

While the position of the viewpoint inside the aPanopticon changes - up/down, left/right, the distance and angle of view is constant. This is fairly obvious and straightforward when looking at small, solid objects. However, it does change the experience of looking at transparent or translucent objects. In the normal viewing situation as a viewer changes their relative angle (for instance, walking around a plinth) the view through, and experience of, a transparent object changes as different objects or backgrounds can be seen. This can be exploited, but can be detrimental if the artist does not have complete control over the surroundings (positioning, lighting, extraneous objects) of a work.

Despite the contained environment, the experience of the work was still affected by the lighting conditions in the Gallery - whether according to the time of day, there was daylight coming through the window behind the aPanopticon or whether the Gallery was lit by artificial light. As mentioned previously, the aPanopticon has its own lighting which revolves with the camera. I wondered if it would be of benefit to control the lighting conditions within the aPanopticon by using a blackout lining layer in the coverings. This would enable more precise decisions to be made when installing work that is light dependent. For example, the relative translucency of materials is greatly affected by the quantity of light behind or in front of the material. However, I did very much like the material quality of the canvas and the slight transparency which meant you could see the movement of the light inside the aPanopticon as the camera moved. 

Lastly, as I discussed this with Graham, I think the ergonomics and aesthetics of the control needs  more experimentation. The wooden handles of the controls are not generic controls and are not entirely obvious that they can be 'played with'. There is a natural inhibition with many gallery viewers that they cannot touch a display unless specifically asked to do so. I think the controls of the aPanopticon need to 'ask' the viewer more explicitly to interact with the piece. Though whether this is through the product design of the control or through labelling is a decision for Graham.