Systems Maintenance

Description of Perry Hoberman's installation Systems Maintenance, published in The Art of the Accident, 1998.

A circular room in the exhibition is furnished with a number of simple, brightly coloured pieces of furniture which can be moved around on wheels. Suspended on a metal arm that can be moved around the room sits a video camera that is pointed at the furniture. The video images are projected onto a large screen on the wall.

Close by there is a 1/10 scale model of the same room, including exact models of the furniture which can be lifted up and moved. A second video camera is mounted on a metal arm, pointing at the centre of the model and. The image from this camera is superimposed on the other camera¹s image on the projection screen. By turning the platform on which the model rests, the camera viewpoint can be moved around the model.

A third, digital model of exactly the same room with furniture is displayed on a computer monitor where the furniture can be rearranged by means of a trackball. Similarly, the viewpoint of the virtual camera can be changed. The image of this room is also projected on the single projection screen, which shows the congruences and incongruences between the three rooms as overlays and distortions.

By moving the furniture and viewpoint in each of the three rooms, visitors can match (or mismatch) the components of the rooms as they appear in the projected image. At certain times during the exhibition, three activators try to straighten out the three rooms. Communicating through headset walkie talkies they coordinate their actions and attempt to copy the changes made by the exhibition visitors in one of the rooms by repeating them in the two others.

The video projection - in effect a 'fourth room' - becomes the site of some striking confusions of scale as hands, bodies and gadgets mingle in the same hybrid space.

Systems Maintenance has been commissioned by Hull Time Based Arts for Photo 98, UK Year of Photography and Electronic Image, and by V2_Organisation / DEAF 98.

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