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.

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

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

Exhibitions

Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) 2017 at Desert X at Coachella Valley, CA, USA, 2019

On View: February 09 – April 21, 2019
Location: 2901 N. Palm, Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 33.859118, -116.559933

Desert X is a contemporary art exhibition framed by the mountains and desert of the Coachella Valley. On this podcast, we’ll introduce you to some of the artists of Desert X 2019. Their site-specific artworks range from murals and projections to large-scale sculptures and virtual installations. And they take on big themes like fossil fuel use, rising sea levels, and class divides.

Western Flag 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 the center of which is marked by a flagpole spewing and endless stream of 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. Situated at the very gateway to the Coachella Valley and the city of Palm Springs Western flag acts a stark reminder not just of the willful exploitation and depletion of resources that millions of years ago covered this former sea floor with an abundance of life, but of the energy taken to return the deserted land to its current state of artificial habitation. The invisible gas responsible for climate change is here made visible. Flying the flag of our own self-destruction we are asked to consider our role in the warming of the planet and simultaneous desertification of once fertile lands.

Displayed on an artist–designed frameless LED wall.

www.desertx.org

Western Flag at Somerset House, London, 2017

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

Selected Press
Western Flag in the media

laist.com
Cargill, Adriana: 'Desert X Brings An Art Choose-Your-Own-Adventure To The Coachella Valley, 11 February 2019

transformationsjournal.org
FitzGerald, Lisa: 'Black Gold: Digitally-Simulated Environments and the Material Aesthetics of Oil’, Transformations issue 32, November 2018

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

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2019 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT DESERT X / COACHELLA VALLEY, CA, USA
@ Lance Gerber
2019 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT DESERT X / COACHELLA VALLEY, CA, USA
@ Lance Gerber
2019 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT DESERT X / COACHELLA VALLEY, CA, USA
@ Lance Gerber
2019 · WESTERN FLAG (SPINDLETOP, TEXAS) 2017 AT DESERT X / COACHELLA VALLEY, CA, USA
@ Lance Gerber
2017 · WESTERN FLAG / SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON
© Damian Griffiths
2017 · WESTERN FLAG / SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON
© Will Pryce
2017 · WESTERN FLAG / SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON
© Will Pryce
2017 · WESTERN FLAG / SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON
© Damian Griffiths
2017 · WESTERN FLAG / SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON
© Will Pryce
2017 · WESTERN FLAG / SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON
© 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    

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