Drake-Brockman & Kuhaupt, 2001 - Geoffrey
Essay from Exhibition Catalogue: Geoffrey, Drake-Brockman & Kuhaupt - The Kurb Gallery
This collaborative installation portrait (self-portrait) of Geoffrey is a serendipitous spin-off from our other long term projects Chromeskin and Quadrascope.
Originally, we conceived of a ‘finite element man’ sculpture, that would have merely demonstrated the cubic divisibility of the human form. Later, that early concept was transformed when we realised that one of us was inevitably the subject in depiction. Thus the work would be a portrait – but to achieve this the original sculpture had to be ‘turned inside out’ by making it participate in an architectural space and allowing it to become part of a specific observational process. So sculpture became installation and the essential characteristics of Geoffrey emerged.
The figure in Geoffrey is a hollow fibreglass casting taken from a life mould of the subject. Some elaboration of the cast re-established lost features such as head and pubic hair. The subject’s body, in its naked vulnerability and overweight proportions, becomes an empathetic axis of engagement for the perceptual dynamics of the installation.
The key process of Geoffrey is a single-point ocular griding of the installation space. An ideal perceptual checkerboard that is suggestive of networked and delineating technologies, as well as linear and ordered mental systems. Of course, the act of observation always influences the observed phenomena, but in the case of Geoffrey a transient act of observation has been crystallised as an observable system in itself.
To create our grid with the rigour appropriate we made use of the ultimate 3-D straightedge – a laser beam. The rotating laser instrument used for this purpose may be seen displayed in the rear gallery. Using the rotating laser on its tripod mount, while working at night, we could set up planar beams at regular angular displacements from a single point of focus.
If you position your head just so, at the focus of all the radii, you will become the ideal observer of the grided man/space. Anywhere else, the system is disrupted and all observations become meta-observations of the perceptual system being illustrated.
In a sense, Geoffrey depicts a sensorium, an inner space or Cartesian theatre where mental processes are played out. In here, Geoffrey is both actor and audience, caught in the cycle of his own awareness. Geoffrey: information technologist, man-who-would-be-robot, logician. Under the perfect ordering principle Geoffrey is rendered monodimentional. Outside the system there are glimpses of another Geoffrey: fat man, artist, person.