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.
When two participants meet, the actor closest to their goal continues walking,
while the other must sit or lie on the landscape and rest. After a period
lasting between 24 and 36 hours, only one remains standing. The process
then draws to a close, the actors reassemble at the centre of the scene, the
ground-level point of view gravitates around the worker who endured the
longest, and the exercise begins anew—still without our knowing why (or
for whom) this game, with its perpetual, seamless drift, is being played out.
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)
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 / Štěpan 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.
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'. Including :
Exercise (Djibouti) 2012
Infinite Freedom Exercise (near Abadan, Iran) 2011
Burning Oil Fields (near Abadan, Iran) 2013
Opening February 28th 2014.
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