DON'T WORRY! Was an exhibition of work in the atrium of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Fulham Road, west London. It was comissioned by the Hospital's own Arts Programme and curated by Tamsin Dillon. It featured specially-made works by Martin Creed, Ori Gersht, Brian Cyril Griffiths, Perminder Kaur, Elizabeth LeMoine, Kaffe Matthews, David Shrigley and myself. Our brief was to make work which was relevant to the site and we were given virtually free rein to visit parts of the hospital and research for over a year. The actual show was on from March 6th to 26th May 2000 and the Hospital bookshop may still have copies of the catalogue available. I made two pieces for the show. One was the first version of the Mutoscope and was titled "Patient Simulator". It had two looped moving images; one was of me on a treadmill in Physio, linked to a lot of monitors and wires etc, the other was an animated drawing of a kind of rudimentary heart-and-lung machine. The soundtrack, relayed through an extension speaker from the "record" was of an irregular heartbeat. There is more information about this piece in its various forms on the Mutoscope page.
The other piece was called "Hospital Simulator" and was installed in a public circulation area on the ground floor.
It consisted of 30 identical browncardboard boxes, each one containing a sound generator, held suspended between layers of clear plastic film - a packaging device made to protect delicate electronic parts in the post.
The sound generators themselves consisted of a core chip which stores up to 20 seconds of sound and replayed it through a 3-inch speaker when the contact was made to a 6-volt battery pack. The chips were connected via small printed circuit boards (14cm x 8cm) each of which was printed with, as well as the functioning circuits, various line drawings.
The boxes were arranged in rows on three bays, each with 5 shelves, of grey "dexion" racking. In the middle of the central shelf was a wooden box, faced in yellow formica on which was an array of 30 small red push-button switches. From the back of the box cables snaked to each cardboard box, connected at either end by simple jack plugs.
When a viewer pressed a button the chip in the appropriate box played its sound; the sounds were all recorded around the hospital, snatches of conversation, machinery or ambient sounds, comments by staff, visitors and patients. As many buttons could be pressed toghether or in sequence as the viewer wanted. The resulting mosaic of sound was a simple sonic reconstruction of the building on a particular day... Its stacked, high-tech architecture echoed in the racked-up shelves.
Virtually all of the materials were "off the peg", available from industrial and electronics catalogues; the boxes are a standard packaging product, the shelving is found everywhere, the chips were bought from a wholesaler importing them from China for the toy industry. The pictorial circuit boards were made from line artwork by a small electronics factory near the artist's studio in North London, other components were purchased by mail-order from standard stock - only the formica-faced control box was individually made.
However, the effect is far from industrial or mass-produced. The work re-makes itself constantly with the participation of each different spectator, to their constant delight. It was one of the most popular works in the show and, despite being in a circulation area open to the public 24 hours a day, it sufferred no vandalism or theft.
Financial support from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Arts.
Technical support and advice from Pei An of Intec and David Buckley.
Design and fabrication by Alistair Metcalf of Effects Too and Colin Dinsdale of Dinsdale Engineering.
Thanks for great patience and support from Tamsin Dillon and the other artists involved and for my "workforce" - Jane Howson, Lucas Hewitt and Brian Pound.