[SISEA 1990] Artist Statement: Simon Penny – Ceci n’est pas un Oiseau

Artist Statement

Ceci n’est pas un oiseau is a projection installation comprising a specially built animation projector and a system of four automated semi-transparent screens. The projector projects a looped series of images of a cockatoo in flight made by Edward Muybridge onto the four screens. The screens are moved by the action of  six programmed, suspended fans.

The central concerns of the work are with:
-Human pattern recognition,
-The seduction of the cinema, behind which is a rigorous mechanics of sequenced still frames,
-The location of the sign in a chain of electro-mechanically reproduced singifiers,
-The rendering ‘scientific’ (thus ‘knowable’) of natural phenomena by the use of Cartesian, Empirical taxoniomic systems.

Muybridge’s grand project was to quantify animal and human locomotion by the superimposition of it upon a planar grid and then to ‘grid’ time through the sequencing of  the cameras. This procedure is a case study in the method of the ‘old science’ which traces its lineage through Euclid, Descartes and Newton, of a world resolvable to simplified relationships and excluded variables, where time and space are absolutes. The project is conceptually contemporary with Mendeleyevs’ periodic table of elements and Mendels genetics.

  • Simon Penny (Australia)