view installation still

Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014

Dimensions variable

» View details

A mysterious structure in the heart of the Chinese desert, a precise system of

roadways the size of a small town and apparently designed to be seen from

orbit. For Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014, John Gerrard commissioned an American

satellite imaging firm to depth-scan these markings in order to digitally

reconstruct the entire structure and its surrounding landscape. Into this

simulation, set wandering through the vast road network, the artist places

thirty-nine workers from a Ghangzhou computer manufacturing plant,

still wearing the blue uniforms and elasticated paper bonnets from that

context. Players on what may equally be read as gameboard, landscape,

or gigantic theatre stage, the workers’ paths across the grid are calculated

and determined by the A* algorithm, as used in GPS routefinding systems.

The entire performance, play, competition or exercise is depicted by three

different virtual cameras: from human head height, from the point of view of a

circling low-flying drone, and from a satellite’s vertical perspective. Tasked with

piecing together the data they deliver, conducting a dispassionate surveillance,

the viewer is telepresent, omniscient, yet strangely disconnected; a processing

channel for information flows with a possibly violent intent, contemplating the

scene, constructing the narrative from above, striving to penetrate the logic

of the exercise. Like the site in which it takes place, this is a performance

whose eerie calm secretes paranoia, uncertainty, and a creeping awareness

of pervasive systems of technological control. (RM)



» View credits

Participants: Chen Gui Q. Cheng Xiao Y. Liang Yan F. Tang Yin Y. Liu Yan L. Liao Xiu R. Feng Shao L. Wu Li Y. Chen Wei P. Ma Yue R. Yuan Jian M. Ding R. Ma Yan H. Cheng Yu Q. Lan Mou J. Yang Ming S. He Wei D. Gao Xiao M. Li Jun Q. Hu Q. Chen Zhi C. Yang Zhan H. Ma Fu M. Ma Ping P. Ma Mei Y. Chen

Yan F. Ma Xiao H. Tang Yu M. Ma You J. Chen Jian Z. Tang Jie L. Lou Li C. Ma Shi P. Lou H. Wang Xian G. Sun Guang M. Su Xi Z. Guo Wei L. Wu Tang S.

Ma Bi R.

Producer : Werner Poetzelberger

Programmer : Helmut Bressler

Actors : Conor Lovett, Esther Balfe, Emmanuel Obeya

Motion Capture, Rigging, Additional Motion Editing : Bohemia Interactive / ŠtÄ›pan Kment

Motion Capture Editing : Laura Millar

Motion Capture On Set Assistance - Martin Michal.k

3D Character Development : Preproduction / 3D-Modelling / Cloth-Simulation / Texturing / Rigging /

Animation Editing: arx anima

Character Creation / Project Lead : Martin Hebestreit

Character Rigging / Technical Lead : Benedikt Lutz

Shoot Producer (Hong Kong & Guanzhou) : Matthew Kwang

Shoot Producer (Dunhuang) : Cesar Mejias Olmedo

Character Shoot (Guanzhou) ITR Space / Hitomi Ko, Javi Miqueleiz

Cross Polarised Shoot (Guanzhou) : Wong Suk Ki

Video shoot (Guanzhou) : Dima Litvinov

Satellite Scans : Satellite Imaging Corporation of Texas USA

Landscape Development : Werner Poetzelberger

Game Engine : Unigine

Commissioned by :

Ahmet Kocabiyik / Borusan Contemporary & The Richard Massey Foundation for Art and Science.

With thanks to : Martine d'Anglejan-Chatillon, Simon Preston, Robin Mackay, Reza Negarestani, Roger Ball of SizeChina Lab. Elaine Ng. Cesar Mejias Olmedo, Special thanks to the actors and dancers : Conor Lovett, Esther Balfe, Emmanuel Obeya for their engagement with the project. 


Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014


Darmstadt Kunsthalle, Germany

A survey of the Exercise series at Kunsthalle Darmstadt including the works : 

Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014 (pictured)

Exercise (Djibouti) 2012

Burning Oil Fields (near Abadan, Iran) 2013
Infinite Freedom Exercise (near Abadan, Iran) 2011

Live Fire Exercise (Djibouti) 2011


John Gerrard. Exercise
Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul

28/02/2014 – 04/04/2014

A survey of recent works from the Exercise series alongside the premiere of the newly commissioned work titled  'Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014' (pictured) 

Also Including : 

Exercise (Djibouti) 2012
Infinite Freedom Exercise (near Abadan, Iran) 2011
Burning Oil Fields (near Abadan, Iran) 2013
Live Fire Exercise 2011

Opening February 28th 2014. 


John Gerrard. Exercise


Original found land markings, Gobi Desert, China. 

Seen on Google Earth here
Artist commissioned satellite scan. 
Courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery, Simon Preston Gallery. 


Participants in Exercise (Dunhuang) 2014