Tracer FireBack Members' Room 18/9/2011 - 26/10/2011
Inspired by the phosphorescent trail of tracer bullets in the night sky Tracer Fire explores the juxtaposition between the beauty and violence of ballistic weapons – their mesmerising, burning trail belying their destructiveness upon impact, and the highly wrought nature of their machinery at odds with the havoc they wreak. An installation piece projected simultaneously on to the surfaces of a darkened room, the experience is one of being caught in crossfire or at a fireworks display. The immersive work also exploits the concept of persistence of vision, as our eyes fill up with afterimages, adding another dimension to the piece.
Tracer Fire is the latest video work by artist Joel Newman, whose previous work has been shown at the ICA and Whitechapel Art Gallery, and who has taught Video at the AA School since 1998. The AA School was one of the first organisations to adopt video as a design as well as a recording tool and has had a dedicated department since 1968.
The video, which was a year in the making, uses motion graphics, with each frame of the animation hand-drawn on a tablet using a digital pen. Each minute of the 20-minute film equates to around 1,500 individual frames, with the whole requiring around 30,000 handdrawn images.
Joel Newman says: ‘Images of bullets and gunfire are endemic in the modern world. At one remove they take on a kind of beauty, reminding us of fireworks. I was inspired by this duality between beauty and destructiveness both in the visual display they produce but also by the engineering of modern weapons – these are wonders of design but they kill people. At the same time I was interested in forms of communication: opposing sides will use different colours to mark their tracer fire and time-delay chemicals mean that the gunners can pinpoint a target without revealing their own location.’
Joel Newman has exhibited video works at various galleries and venues including the Architecture Foundation, the Gasworks Gallery, the ICA, the Lux Pandaemonium Biennial of Moving Images, Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Sao Paulo Biennale of Alternative Art and Music and the Architectural Association. He was Co-Curator for the New Media Research Initiative at the Architectural Association School with Theo Spyropoulos and Vasilis Stroumpakos (2006–08) and speaker at the School’s Beyond Entropy event, which formed part of the 2010 Venice Architectural Biennale. He has taught Video at the Architectural Association School since 1998.
Photos: Sue Barr