Giusy Pirrotta

Between the Glimpse and the Gaze

Installation view at James Hockey Gallery, UCA University for the Creative Arts, Farnham

Ceramics Glazed, plexiglass and wood banisters, wallpaper, LED changing colour lights. LED mini digital projectors, mirror sheetings, monitor, wood structure, 2017.
Moving image: Botany HD video 6'10'', Botany 2'00'' 16mm film transferred on HD, Astrid 6' 27'', 16mm film transferred on HD.
Exhibition with a selection of Photos by Stephen White

The exhibition project summarizes the final stage of the practiced-based PhD research prior to the publication of my thesis titled: Moving image and the space around he frame: Time based-installation and forms of experience.
The installation investigated the relationship between moving image and the use of light, and the interaction of both elements with sculptural objects and the exhibition space.
The project illustrates the multidisciplinary aspect of my work which has the aim to integrate languages belonging to different disciplines, such as sculpture, product and interior design and visual art through the manipulation of elements that belong to the cinema (the screen, the projector, the projection and the auditorium).
The sculptures exhibited are made in ceramic glazed; on some of them I applied a further layer of lustre to develop more reflections on the surface. Every sculpture represents a manipulation of the idea of a lamp as a design object that diffuses light, and of a projector as a cinematic object that projects light. Inside each sculpture is installed a light source (a light bulb or a mini LED projector). Some of them resemble or reproduce the shape of a film projector, and they are placed in front of the projection. This aspect brings the viewer to think that the sculpture itself projects the video, and plays on the ambiguity between equipment on display and viewer expectation when experiencing the moving image. My intent is to play on this relationship re-inventing the shape and the mechanism of the projector itself.

Every sculpture is studied in relation to the background, shape and colour are both thought to create the illusion of the object being absorbed to the decorative pattern of background and at the same time magnified on it.
The use of elements that belong to the design language, such as the wallpaper and the wood banisters, is studied to reproduce a domestic environment and at the same time to subvert the specific use of these materials inside the public sphere of the gallery and along with the image projected.

The wallpaper exhibited was chosen from designs already in commerce a part from my first pattern design Palm Dream, realised through the manipulation of analogue photographs depicting images of palms. Every photo was scanned and assembled to produce a repeating pattern.

The space is divided into parts, the one at the entrance is thought in relation to the movie theatre auditorium, not as a space where the viewer sits still in the dark, but as a space of transit which become a rhomboidal wood structure adapted to the original room. This structure has two apertures: one is at the entrance and the other one is at the sides of the standalone screen where is projected the digital version of Botany film. The film shows the sculptures exhibited.
My aim is to create the illusion of a screen without borders, a total reception space, where the experience of the continuity of vision is produced, where the gaze moves through the wallpaper the moving image and the sculptures, and where what is shown inside the screen borders continue outside the projection frame.
In this way the gaze is lost between the vision of the detail and the vision of the overall view of the space.
Walking into the space the viewer realises the illusion between the moving and the still image, and sees the two apertures at the sides of the standalone screen. These passages lead towards a second space where there are some sculptures that resemble the shape of a super8 projector. In this space there are two big projections facing each others, the projections’ light creates reflections which are amplified by the mirror sheets applied on the wall.
My intent here is the same, thus the expansion of the frame borders through the use of light and its interaction with the projection and the physical space.

The exhibition is accompanied by a risograph in limited edition with texts by
Nicky Hamlyn & Emmanuelle Waeckerlé e Giusy Pirrotta

Richard Hylton: "Comprising an intriguing range of ceramic objects, striking set design, and digital and analogue filmmaking, this ambitious and immersive installation highlights the evolution of Pirrotta’s practice, whereby the exclusive use of film and video has given way to an expanded field of production in which sculptural objects interact with light, moving image and space. Interested in merging different visual languages and modes of reception, Pirrotta activates a sensorial space, where the aesthetics of the glimpse and the gaze co-exist. Pirrotta writes:

“The observation of the space of moving image between the cinema and the gallery, the use of light as a material and the re-interpretation of the ‘grammar’ related to the projection process contribute to encompass the focus related to the use of a specific medium or language, broadening the work to infinite solutions offered by the interaction between art, design and architecture.”

Giusy Pirrotta’s Light-Play Works

by Nicky Hamlyn & Emmanuelle Waeckerlé

Stan Brakhage’s film The Riddle of Lumen (1972) addresses the riddle of light: light is everywhere but almost nowhere directly visible as such (if we look into light we see dazzle, but do we really see light?). We only see it indirectly in Brakhage’s film via a diversity of images in which light is reflected, refracted and diffused through curtains, leaves and other semi transparent surfaces.
Giusy Pirrotta’s project is similarly concerned, but where Brakhage devoted his entire working life to celluloid film, Pirrotta has expanded her range of media. From an initial interest in 16mm film, acquired while a student at Central Saint Martin, she now works with an unusual combination of film (not video), slides, ceramic elements, wallpaper and other materials.
Despite being of its time (21st century post-digital), in its seamless assimilation and integration of the organic (clay, pigments, everyday objects and material, the mechanical; slide projectors and other apparatuses and the technological; video, film), one is taken back to the wonder and magic of pre-cinematic experiments of the late 19th century and early 20th century; phantasmagoria, magic mirrors and lanterns, and the zoetropes, thaumatropes and praxinoscopes. These Greek neologisms attempt to give these inventions at least a dimension of seriousness and respectability.
The careful choreography of Pirrotta’s sculptural objects,projective apparatus and moving image installations allows the audience to be active participants (as opposed to static viewers), free to roam between and around the works, from one sculptural object to an endless reflection leading to a double projection. The way Pirrotta manipulates light and images and juxtaposes materials and projections is magical enough, but she manages to make it even more so by revealing the various natural or mechanical processes that creates them (projection, reflection, refraction etc), processes that are usually kept out of sight or taken for granted.

The experience of light is extended and made palpable by Pirrotta’s ingenious juxtapositions of technology that are in effect quasi-inventions for conjuring and analysis of light-play.
The end result is both spectacular and entertaining in the way of early cinema. It is also thought provoking and refreshing because Pirrotta draws our attention to and reminds us of the increasing amount of (mostly invisible) technologies through which we experience the world and live our life

Nicky Hamlyn is Professor of Experimental Film at UCA Canterbury. He is a filmmaker and writer on artists’ film and video.
Emmanuelle Waeckerlé is Reader in Photography and Relational Practices at UCA Farnham. Her practice explores writing, reading and the materiality of language.