Articles In Books


Book: Directions In Art: Digital Media
Book article:
KIT by Beryl Graham

Book: Alrededor De: Proyectar La Periferia (Around: Planning the Periphery)
Book article: Greylands (Formely New Toxic Homes) by Sara Nadal and Carles Puig

Image / Duration 
Book article: Flight Interstitial by
Michael Boyce



Book Article: KIT by Beryl Graham
From Directions In Art: Digital Media
Published by Heinemann, Oxford, England, 2002

KIT are an international group of young artists, who choose not to identify their gender or race, and who also work with other people such as landscape designers and architects depending on the needs of their projects. They work in galleries, in public spaces, and on the Internet.

"… KIT construct, fall apart and reconstruct for each project they do."

Joyriding in the Land that Time Forgot (1998)

This artwork was made for Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is set in the grounds of a stately home, and has outdoor sculptures by artists such as Henry Moore (1898-1986). KIT exhibited a series of wheeled 'tents', made from canvas that had been printed on a digital ink jet printer. The images on the tents were images of background landscapes from computer games such as Jurassic Park . KIT are very interested in the history of landscapes and public places, and deliberately placed digital artwork in the 'romantic' or 'classical' landscape. Video game landscapes are obviously artificial, but so are the sculpture park grounds, because they were designed and made by landscape gardeners in the 18th Century, and updated with landscape fashions such as a fake Greek Temple.

KIT also made an Internet computer game as part of this artwork, and an indoor installation called Re*Action Hero in the small gallery at the sculpture park. This installation was several 'punchbags', again made of canvas with digitally-printed images from computer games, and it refers to the violence of some games. With this artwork, KIT ask "what is The Land the Time Forgot?"

Other Artworks

Another artwork project by KIT also involved the landscape, but in a city setting. KIT Homes (1997) took place at a school in Widnes, which was shortly to be demolished to make way for a private housing estate. Kit worked with children at the school to design 'ideal homes', and they also requested on the Internet that people send in their own plans. Selected floor plans by the children, and from the Internet, were then drawn onto the school playing fields, using a football pitch line marker that made chalk lines on the grass. Aerial photographs were taken of the site, and were displayed (along with the plans) on the Internet, and in an office on the school site, which mimicked the house sales offices of nearby construction companies. Because the school had been built with donations from the local community, which was mostly public housing, this artwork asked questions about public spaces and private places, and was made for …

" … the local children of the community who would be able to remember the space when it was fields, but with their plans of perfection on them."

Because people could participate on the Internet as well as in the real place, KIT called the approach "virtual geography". Other KIT projects with the same approach include Greylands. These are projects where KIT travel to places including Mexico and Canada, choose a piece of wasteland (sometimes this land has been contaminated with industrial waste), and put images of this land on the Internet. On the web site, people can "buy" areas of land, and send in their plans for what they would do with their "lot".

KIT have also done artworks such as Vacancy KIT (1994) which involved encasing computers in concrete. Jen Southern, (an artist who works with KIT but also does solo work), made an artwork called Roam (2001), which was a series of dresses from digitally-printed fabric, advertised on a web site, shown in galleries, and available from "outlets". Often, KIT make artworks in places where you wouldn't expect to find art.

Other Artists and Influences

KIT are influenced by the places that they work, and the particular tools that they use for each project. The chalk markings on the grass of Kit Homes , for example, make reference to the huge figures cut from turf to show white chalk underneath, such as the Cerne Abbas giant, which was made in the 9th Century.

Other artists who have worked with site-specific installations include Rachel Whiteread, whose concrete-filled House (1993) in London, concerned personal and public spaces, and a sense of history. She also makes other artworks that appear in gallery or museum spaces. Not many artists work with digital media in the rural landscape, but the Makrolab project placed a specially-made large silver mobile living and working space in the Highlands of Scotland in 2002. The 'lab' was equipped with satellite telecommunications receivers and computers, and artists worked with 'streams of data', which were about anything from weather information to commercial communications, to make artworks. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (in this book) also uses a combination of real urban landscapes and the 'virtual space' of the Internet.

The Internet has a long history of ecological organisations using it to swap information and to campaign internationally, so again digital media could be said to have a connection to the landscape, even though it involves new technology rather than natural materials.

Tools and Techniques

KIT work collectively to make site-specific artworks. They use materials from concrete to video game software. They also organise other experts to make parts of the artwork, such as having aerial photographs made, having digital prints made, or having portacabins delivered. This approach of using lots of different materials and influences from commerce, culture, art, and media could be described as a postmodern approach.

Because they work with other people and community groups, they have to be good at helping and communicating, even between themselves. Because members of KIT live in the UK, Canada and Australia, they use email and the Internet for this communication, as well as for the finished artwork.



Book: Alrededor De: Proyectar La Periferia (Around: Planning the Periphery)
Published by Gustavo Gili (GG), Barcelona, Spain, 2002



Book article: Greylands (Formely New Toxic Homes) by Sara Nadal and Carles Puig
Alrededor De (Around): Proyectar La Periferia (Planning the Periphery)
Published by Gustavo Gili (GG), Barcelona, Spain, 2002

This project by KIT, a collective of artists / architects / landscapists, proceeds from a presupposition of the decadence of the suburb / residential neighborhood by recourse to the metaphor of a real condemned space located in Ottawa. Characteristically – KIT is an interdisciplinary entity -, this involves a theoretical vision as well as an architectural project, a landscaping intervention, an art installation or an example of political activism.

The project proposes the metaphorical, virtual re-colonizing of a territory declared as toxic and uninhabitable by Canadian authorities. The visitor to the installation is invited to design a building /house by computer. The design enters a computer network, is transmitted and reproduced in the actual toxic territory of Ottawa by an on-site robot.

The project advocates the design of virtual dwellings that combine the metaphor of colonization with the ironic inscription of its impossibility. It is a question, then, of “dislocating a location” so as to substitute it by an autonomous and virtual one. The periphery is thus opened up to virtuality and its ironies. In this instance, critique is also a proposal. The irony of recycling is revealed: salvaging is an admission of previous failure, of former destruction.



Flight Interstitial by Michael Boyce
From Image / Duration
Published by Gallery 101, Ottawa, Canada, 1999 

1. Objects: Two bunkers cum photobooths cum time machines with two-way surveillance.

They are also, to me, like blemishes or eruptions from the ground below, where here, ground is to be taken in a rounded sense to include both geophysical as well as discursive values. The vestiges of earth upon and about them work as traces, but also as camouflage. Either way the earth reinforces in a similar fashion insofar as earth elementally fortifies construction in areas both geophysical and symbolic. Of course, as blemish or eruption, the earth is like traces of skin broken away, and indeed there is a general sense of breaking away from earth literally and figuratively. The site locations (see 2. Locations) of the booths would seem to reassure this indication. However, as bunkers they are all the better dug in for it, and so not so much hailing from the earth as fortified by it and lodged within it -- using it, in effect. Either way it is a disruption of earth (ground).

This disruption has a couple of trajectories (or consequences). It is at once the indication of a disruption unsolicited and damaging and a perpetrator of it in defense. In the service of earth (the concrete) it is an active/reactive machine engaged at some aggressive level with institutional abstractions, particularly around notions of space and time. The bunker, after all, is a martial housing (and this, then (?), would be a martial art).

Ground departure is shown as implicated with respect to motive, despite recent cybernetic rhetoric making similar departures with claims to structurally undetermined and noncomplicit relations to ethics. Whether or not this latter claim is correct, probable or possible, it is to specific institutions who ride the wave of this discourse's euphoria that the piece is addressed. In those arenas, departure and flight from (the) ground is the occasion for a more efficient territorialization of communications and general socio-political management, made more fluid by embracing at a discursive level more ethereal notions of time and space while at a corporate level rutting for control of as many entry points and metering the duration of as much occupation as possible. The institutions per se remain vague, which is important to do; although there are specific sites (see 2. Locations) which belong to specific corporations, it is not, it would seem, about name-calling, so much as it is about the institutional machinery -- or what might be oxymoronically called the corporate spirit -- itself.

The object as photobooth is surveillance under the guise of narcissism. Like a trojan horse invited into expectation of self-gratification and the reassurance of presence, its attracking force within hits with alterity and absence. Of course, this done with a degree of humour. Or at least I find it funny. If you go into a photobooth and end up with someone else's photo, how do you feel about it? I suppose it could be cause for concern; it may even challenge your basic sense of identity. But what if the whole idea was to grab a print-out of the other person to begin with? The booth appearing to be a photobooth (although granted, a highly militant looking one) is a disarming feature of what in fact is an intrusion and theft of someone else's identity (so to speak). Of course persons in either booth can play tit for tat in this respect so the central agent (or agency) of surveillance is once again vague; and once again this is appropriate -- at least insofar as it draws to my mind Foucault-like notions of individual internalizations of social surveillance/control/management mechanisms (eg. you are your own liquor control board, or you are at once prison, warden, guard and prisoner). Perhaps, then, the point is the process of getting someone else on file (as it were). That is, the banality of it all bespeaks the degree to which a cynical relationship towards inhabiting space (to the very idea of presence) has become socially endemic.

The presentation of this relation remains as the bunker does interstitial inasmuch as it is at once the condition or consequence of an exterior program/agent/agency as well as a practitioner of the same strategy. It inverts the relationship of presence and absence (taking the strategy of digital territorializing which offers you a presence or comfort zone in emptiness and flipping it to secure the presence of that emptiness) at structural level which results in an ideological expose.

There is an inside view and an outside view. The interior is personal, presenting another body (if there happens to be one in the booth at the time), the outside one is contextual -- presenting a view of your space superimposed within their space. Of course if no one resides in the booth at the time you look, you see your own space emptied -- you see your context without your identity. This, as it turns out, may be a rather radical theory. Identity is not context bound/specific. When elements are freed up (so to speak) like this they become more fluid -- and thence (it would seem) easier to manipulate (both for you and someone/thing else).

The object as time-machine is more circumstantial; it is a by-product of the booth as surveillance machine. It presents a view to another locale which in the logic of the piece as a whole presents an interstitial time frame -- between an official and a technical time. Official and Technical are not the same here. They challenge one another, but perhaps they do so while also reinforcing one another. Officially, you look into future or the past; technically you look into the present (i.e. because the booths are located in different time zones and are crossed into one another -- see 2. Locations). In this respect, the technical remains interstitial; it remains between time lines. It also manages geographical coordinates as copresent; it is the same space though its content shows a variable. You are both there and not there, you and someone else. And the space you are in is both where/when you are and where/when you are not. Officially, this is displacement; technically, it is fusion.

Time is as much subject to property rights as space. Perhaps the more unbounded by borders the globalization of communication pretends to be, the more specific, secured and local the borders actually are.

2. Locations: One in a museum of science and technology, the other in the departure lounge of an international airport.

The two locales are copresent within an official time zone difference of 5 hours. The booth as an installation/eruption within an archive (i.e. the museum) -- granted by gatekeepers of this organization, presumably under the popular and highly coveted auspices of electronic interactive media are). Proprietary objects reflective of the past and which harbour promise for the future. Time as property. Time, therefore, as space. Time/space as a relation which begs narrative (and hence coherence, lineage, proprietorship).

The booth as an installation/eruption upon a flight platform (i.e. with the departure lounge of an international airport -- and of a capital city I would add). Sanctioned as is the other location by a municipal (local) directory serving an international (global) interest. The booths are physically located within these specific areas but they operate between them. This is appropriate inasmuch as the operations and functional relations of the institutions are both points of departure. In this respect their specificity as place is meant to be absent -- it's about where they lead to. This structural obfuscation is borne by the booths as the burden of the locations.

Presence as appearance rendered as fiction is an operation which can serve interests motivated by gain using false premises (pun intended). Presence as so blatantly announced by the booths creates friction (over fiction). Of course, it is still made up (insofar as it is informed with any portance) but it differs in that its shifting operation -- its occupation between spaces and times -- highlights its present effects.