Anthony McCall: Projection Artist

Anthony McCall – an artist that greatly inspired my recent IBDP body of works (Link to Grasping the Intangible, Manipulating the Metaphysical). He is an avant-garde, cinema and projection artist who deals with many multiple projection works that seek to create not just a two-dimensional experience, but a total atmospheric experience to audiences, immersing them into all four dimensions.

(For those that do not know that there are four dimensions, let me elaborate a bit on the subject with respect to the artistic process. The second and third dimension are both well known to us. the second being the flat plane, where drawings and paintings exist with no literal visible movement. The third dimension is where sculptural and installation pieces exist. These pieces integrate movement and a more defined interaction between the work, the space they are displayed in as well as the audiences that view the piece. At times, these pieces specifically seek to emphasize the relationship between audiences and artworks and interpretation can be greatly subject to the lighting and nature. However, in some instances, three-dimensional pieces start to flow into the fourth dimension – time. The fourth dimension considers the effect of time in or on an artwork. Moving sculptures, movies, etc. arguably are affected by the fourth dimension, playing a great role in the conceptual development of the work. Works that make use of this element include John Cage’s 4:33 and Michael Wesley’s Open Shutter Project painstaking time-lapsed photographs, both of which ultimate pay tribute to the element of time drastically changing and morphing a work’s outcome to give a different final “piece” depending on the time and space in which it is displayed or made.)




Going back to McCall’s works, they consist of intricately and accurately project rays of light into a smokey, hazy atmosphere created with smoke machines. These rays of light then form shapes, patterns and almost three-dimensional “objects” that exist within the negative space of a room. These projections’ metaphysical form take on such solidity, especially on camera, that one cannot help but feel that they are actually physically there and that you might just be able to grasp the object and feel the grainy texture courtesy of the smoke. These “solid-light” installations exist in the intersection of drawings, cinema and sculptural installation, beginning with the series Line Describing a Cone (above) in 1973, where the metaphysical form of light slowly transforms in three-dimensional space, thus involving the fourth dimension of change.

Anthony McCall has, in this way, inspired some of my works. His works are metaphysical, interacting with the space to create almost solid object from, literally, thin air. This made me question “what was actual artwork, the projections of light, the intangible objects’ interaction with space, the audiences’ interaction with the projection or maybe even just the concept of questioning and think about this?” It went on to reveal to me the potential that each space has, regardless of history or future, whether it was filled or entirely empty, a space was a space, unchanging and ready to be defined according to the terms of the artist.

The places and stereotypes of where we exist in are only constrained by terms and conditions that we define, causing us to be slightly narrow-minded in terms of the environment’s potential. We then seek to create objects to exist within the space, without fully considering that the space itself affects how one can perceive what final product you displayed. Ultimately, this might result in people not asking the questions we desire our art to stimulate, but rather create confusion between viewer and concept. Therefore, from the lighting to physical positioning of a work, the space must be considered not just as a exhibition area, but also a medium in itself.

As some might have seen, my work which was displayed at iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa, 2012sought to play with space. Reminded by the quote that now echoes through my mind, “respect the space”, I created a work that was crucial in changing my conceptual thinking. In the process of developing this work, I considered all the various elements of space, from the walls to the lighting in our surrounding and using the intangible elements, I sought to pay tribute to what was not physically there but still significantly affected our perception of objects – light. In doing so, I created a work that was a pivotal transitioning point, widening my horizons beyond the doors that were before it. Without it, and the inspiration of Science and Anthony McCall’s works, I do not think that I would have been successful in creating the body of works that gave me overall success in not only my examinations, but maturity as a developing artist.

Anthony McCall’s Site


John Cage

Michael Wesley

Guardian Newspaper UK


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