Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) 2017

Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) 2017 depicts the site of the 'Lucas Gusher' - the world's first major oil find - in Spindletop, Texas in 1901, now barren and exhausted. The site is recreated as a digital simulation and placed at its centre a flagpole bearing a flag of perpetually-renewing pressurised black smoke.

The computer generated Spindletop runs in exact parallel with the real site in Texas throughout the year: the sun rising at the appropriate times and the days getting longer and shorter according to the seasons. The simulation is non-durational (having no beginning or end) and is run live by software that is calculating each frame of the animation in real time as it is needed.

“One of the greatest legacies of the 20th century is not just population explosion or better living standards but vastly raised carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. A new flag attempts to give this invisible gas, this international risk, an image, a way to represent itself. I like to think of it as a flag for a new kind of world order.” John Gerrard

Producer: Werner Poetzelberger
Programmer: Helmut Bressler
Modelers: Max Loegler, Philipp Marcks
Game Engine: Unigine
Installation development: Jakob Illera / Inseq Design 

Commissioned by Channel 4 for broadcast April 22nd, Earth Day and presented in partnership with Somerset House.
Live presentation at Somerset House, Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, WC2R 1LA London.
Supported by JJ Charitable Trust, Mark Leonard Trust, Ashden Trust and the Western Flag Supporters Circle

2017 · Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) 2017 at Somerset House

Channel 4 and Somerset House launch a new work by John Gerrard presented on a giant LED screen wall in the historic courtyard at Somerset House from 21st to 27th April 2017.

Live presentation at Somerset House, Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, WC2R

Opening: 20 April, 6:30–8:30pm

Dates: 21 April– 27 April
Times: Daily, 7am– 11pm

Commissioned by Channel 4, in partnership with Somerset House
Supported by JJ Charitable Trust, Mark Leonard Trust, Ashden Trust and the Western Flag Supporters Circle

www.somersethouse.org.uk

Research

Response

frieze.com
Eastham, Ben: 'One Take: John Gerrard’s Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas)', 01 June 2017

Creative Review
'WORK: John Gerrard’s virtual flag to fly at Somerset House and on C4',  19 April 2017

Irish Times
Tipton, Gemma: 'John Gerrard on sculpting smoke, false flags and how it all comes down to petroleum', 22 April 2017

dezeen.com
Frearson, Amy: 'John Gerrard creates simulated flag of black smoke as a symbol of climate change', 6 July 2017

News

22/04/2017–22/04/2017
World Earth Day - Western Flag On Air

Western Flag is a new commission by artist John Gerrard from Channel 4 as part of their Man-Made Planet season broadcast to mark this year’s Earth Day (22nd April).

The work will be broadcast as a television interruption, breaking into the Channel 4 schedule in short bursts over 24 hours of normal broadcast television.
The interruptions will begin at 9pm on 22nd April and will continue for 24 hours until 9pm on 23rd April.

A live stream of the flag can be experienced on All 4 at all4.com/westernflag.

On Earth Day (22nd April) use your screen, tablet or phone to broadcast the artwork anywhere you choose, stream it in full screen or share it using #westernflag.

www.westernflag.art
all4.com/westernflag

20/04/2017–27/04/2017
Western Flag - Installation

Western Flag - a symbol for climate change and modern society’s dependence on oil – commissioned by Channel 4, is presented in partnership with Somerset House.

From April 21st until April 27th Western Flag will open as a major new public LED wall installation on the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House, WC2R 1LA London on the occasion of World Earth Day.
Supported by: JJ Charitable Trust, Mark Leonard Trust, Ashden Trust and the Western Flag Supporters Circle.

Opening: 20 April, 6:30–8:30pm
Dates: 21 April– 27 April
Times: Daily, 7am– 11pm

Visit, gather, discuss.

#westernflag
www.westernflag.art

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2017 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT SOMERSET HOUSE
© Damian Griffiths
2017 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT SOMERSET HOUSE
© Will Pryce
2017 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT SOMERSET HOUSE
© Will Pryce
2017 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT SOMERSET HOUSE
© Will Pryce
2017 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT SOMERSET HOUSE
© Will Pryce
Making of 'Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) 2017' John Gerrard tells the story behind his new artwork, by Gramafilm commissioned by Channel4 to mark Earth Day.
Lucas Gusher / Spindletop / 1901 © Tyrell Historical Library, (Beaumont, Texas) the Gilbert Papers
OilCity / Spindletop / 1903 © Tyrell Historical Library, (Beaumont, Texas) the Gilbert Papers
BoilerAvenue / Spindletop / 1903 © Tyrell Historical Library, (Beaumont, Texas) the Gilbert Papers