modern
Single channel digital video, 7 mins 12 secs, 2000.

'modern' takes us through Tate Modern, from the ground floor to the 5th and back via the escalators, during the first week of the building's opening to the public. Filmed with a motorised panoramic camera head, the image is composed so that the vertical aspect of the building is accentuated. In 'modern', the museum’s visitors act as props that punctuate the combination of movements through this re-appropriated architectural space.

"'modern' forges a link between a device that makes the camera pan in a 360º circle with the escalators that run up the centre of the Tate Modern. The collision of the two moving machines forms a certain experience of space not possible with either one alone. Mildly disorienting, the piece emphasises the vertical rise, horizontal circulation across each floor, and descent in reverse through the building. It seems to analyse the building’s structure and the way one is directed through it, made all the more complex, and closer to real, by a device that is not fixed in a single direction. A few times the two movements coincide (the camera facing up and the escalator going up), creating a moment of hypostasis, a short breather before the movement starts again. Similar to Nauman, Deignan lets an exterior logic determine the form of the piece (in Nauman’s case, the duration of his videos often were the length of the tape; in 'modern' it is the completion of the escalator tour). "

from the essay 'This Space is Unstable' by Alison Green, 2002.

© Michelle Deignan 2000