ACME Gallery, London UK
colour, 16mm, six screen installation
“With Shore Line, [Welsby] took the radical step of making a work designed for showing continuously in a gallery…” Dave Curtis
First shown at ACME Gallery, London in 1975. Shore Line was the first in a series of six-screen film installations to explore the rhythms of nature and the rhythms of mechanization.
The subject of the sea has always been a challenge for Welsby. He describes it as a subject more vast than imagination. For this reason, the sea is often used as a metaphor for the imagination, or cognition, in his work.
In Shore Line, each of six projectors projects identical 15 ft loops. The shot is a relatively small, subtly moving, sea vista; waves break on an empty beach, swells dissipate in the distance, a few clouds move across the sky. The horizon passes through the centre of the frame.
The footage was shot by placing the camera on its side . The projectors are likewise placed on their sides. They are aligned so that the projected horizon forms a continuous straight line across all six screens.
Because no two projectors ever run at the same speed, six projectors generate unlimited permutations of image combinations. The installation, like the ocean it portrays, is never static, never repetitive, always moving, always running through new patterns and rhythms. Despite the simplicity of the technology, there is a beautiful complexity that emerges from the work.
Both the material process of representation, and the landscape imagery, is crucial to the reading of this work. Welsby writes about Shore Line in his 2004 essay, A Systems View of Nature,
“a line of six noisy 16mm projectors are prominently mounted on white plinths, where, like an opposing army, they face an image of a pristine line of surf breaking on a sandy beach. The prominence of the projectors, the visibility of the film loops strung from the ceiling, the shadows of the viewer cast on the screen, and the noise of the projectors (the only sound track), read in connection with the composite image of the beach, together create a model in which technology, human presence, and the representation of nature are physical participants in the production of meaning.”
In A History of Artist’s Film in Britain, BFI Publishing 2007, Dave Curtis writes,
“Several of Welsby’s films had been made for twin- or triple-screen projection, to be performed as his single screen work was, in the cinema. With Shore Line (first version 1977) he took the radical step of making a work designed for showing continuously in a gallery and this soon became his preferred context for this work.”
© Chris Welsby 2007
Six portable 16mm Eiki ST – mo film projectors. Six loop carriers. Six plinths measuring 2ftx2ftx4ft made from particle board (MDF or similar) and painted white.
A room measuring L60ftxW30ftx15H is optimum. Total black out
Some sonic isolation is desirable due to projector noise.
The plinths are painted white to emphasize the presence of the projectors in the gallery space.
The sound of the projectors is the “sound track” for the work and it is therefore unnecessary to try and eliminate or buffer it.
I would prefer to have the film loops visible rather than hide them by using loop carriers. The loops are only 15 ft long and run very well through plastic curtain rings suspended from the ceiling. This refers to the viewer to the material base of the medium and increases the “sculptural” presence of the projection.
The loops get worn and scratched and need to be changed on a regular daily basis. With a little practice this takes about 20 minutes. There are a few frames of black spacing between each loop to identify the beginning and end of the loop. This black spacing must be removed when the individual loops are spliced together.
You will use your master to print multiple exhibition prints. You will need to order one print for each day of the exhibition. Each set of six loops is printed on 100ft of film. Repeat prints are relatively inexpensive if ordered in large multiples.
© Chris Welsby 2007