Drake-Brockman & Kuhaupt, 2003 - Essentialiser
Essay from Exhibition Catalogue: The Luminous Image VI - Collaborative Concepts gallery in Beacon, NY
Essentialiser was completed in late 2002 and first exhibited at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA). This artwork was an outcome of a project commenced by Kuhaupt and Drake-Brockman earlier in 2002, with funding from a PICA Research and Development Grant and sponsorship from Laserex Technologies. The PICA R&D grant allowed the artists to develop the “Lasercube” - an appliance incorporating 60 small industrial red lasers, installed in a series of three axial mounts. Each laser produces a fan beam that creates a perfect plane of red light. The effect is that anything or anyone inside the Lasercube is embedded in a matrix of 6,859 ten-centimetre wide cubes of red laser light.
The Essentialiser is an installation of the Lasercube system inside a two-and-a-half metre cubic enclosure. The enclosure is darkened internally and screened from outside light. Audience participants are able to pass through a door and enter the Lasercube space where the 60 beams trace lines onto their bodies. The visible effect of the incident beams is be picked up via an infra-red video camera and displayed, on a feedback monitor inside the Essentialiser, as well as an large outside monitor, for the gallery audience to see.
Lasercube uses planar beams of laser light to describe surfaces, objects and people. Laser beams are coherent, absolute agents. They are used in this project to introduce gridding and dividing systems that are applied specifically to human bodies - and thus realise the body as a set of Cartesian co-ordinate descriptors. This is done in order to reduce the object (person) under investigation to its (their) bare spatial necessity – to “essentialise”.
Essentialiser strips away much of the visual information that we usually associate with a human body and performs a very sparse ‘sampling’ of the human form. Via such process we can more easily see what is ‘essential’ to a representation of the human form, and what is superfluous…