Amplification Device, 2007
Amplification Device, 2007

Amplification Device, 2007

re-processed digital video, 7 mins


The video, formed from thousands of re-photographed digital frames, shows a man at an airstrip, building a sonic device from debris around him. Every time a plane passes, he stops building and makes a sound.


The amplification device is a sonic weapon made with whatever comes to hand; an old watering can, pipes, tape, debris found washed up and collected at the edges of the city. It takes on a modular form, in a constant process of being built and rebuilt, its motion can be arrested at any moment, put into use, and then reconfigured. it offers an improvisation between the body, which adapts around its form, and other individual component parts of the machine

The player confronts its possibilities one by one. testing and probing the limits of its capability, hoping to fully maximise the intensity of his encounter . He tips and taps his voice against it, warming up and starting to become immersed. Its sound effect is first strictly regulated according to the timetable of passing aircraft. every time a plane passes, he stops building and calls. The call is neither a protest nor an attempt at communication, it is just sound. an exhausted voice at the edge of an airstrip passing as wind through a tube.

Slowly, it starts to collapse from within. The player is not shouting at the planes but calling them to him. Shaman of the airstrip, he is the cause and they are the effect. Eventually, tired of invoking the roar and shudder of engines, he turns his back on the planes and beats out his own rhythm, his sound becoming part of the sound around.

The film bears an uncertain relation to the events at the airstrip. Produced through the rephotographing and reanimating of 12,000 individual still frames, it takes cinematic movement down to its component parts and rebuilds it slowly, like learning to walk. Its surface effect is hyperdigital nostalgia, oscillating between future and past so the present is bypassed, or expanded as the moment of the sound of the voice.

video by allsopp&weir;, 2007, text presented at Platform Garanti, Istanbul by Andy Weir, 2007

installation view, Breathless, Vienna, 2009

installation view, Breathless, Vienna, 2009

into position, Vienna, 2007

street view during installation set-up, Into Position, Vienna, 2007

I won't let () Degrade

by Isobel Harbison

I won’t let (film) degrade I won’t let (him) degrade I won’t let (you) degrade I won’t let (...) degrade
“I’ll talk to you.You’ll listen to me.You’ll talk to me. I’ll listen to you... They’ll talk to you. You’ll listen to them. I’ll talk to them. They’ll listen to me”.
[transcribed from Bruce Nauman’s World Peace (Projected) 1996, multi-screen projection]

In the late 1960s, William T Wiley stressed the importance of “seeing with a dumb
eye” to his then student Bruce Nauman. Throughout his career, Nauman studied the oft-unnoticed interdependencies be- tween language and Being, playing them out qua performance and installation until they felt foreign, again. He stated, “human activities no matter how limited, strange or pointless, [are] worthy of being exam- ined carefully”.

In a fenced-off waste-ground, behind a runway facing a city on high, Amplification Device follows an old man as he enters the space and endeavours to construct, refine and actively communicate through a device made of a plastic watering can, foam tubing and adhesive tape. His target is a chain of ascending aeroplanes but his message, shouted or drummed, remains (deliberately) unclear. The indecipherable nature of the message promotes the am- plification device to the subject of scru- tiny, rather than any literal entity that it might carry. This shoddily taped oddity, or amplification device, might now be inter- preted as a condition or set of conditions; of the film, of the man, and of you.
The entire sequence might be read as Russian literary critic and semiotician Mikhail Bakhtin might have defined an ut- terance; an abstract or literal statement as it is delivered in direct or indirect re- sponse to another utterance. Seen within this framework, Amplification Device becomes mobile, the provoked articula- tion in a state of delivery before it is else- where received. It is caught in a cycle, for as soon as it materialises, it takes effect elsewhere and then awaits a return. It re- sembles any urge to develop, to ascend, to stay within the body, which is stuck in degeneration, decay. It is the relationship between artwork and viewer, yet only as the piece plays through.

Forced redundancy of a central char- acter’s task is a device used in perfor- mance by Nauman, and similarly Samuel Beckett, in order, amongst other things, to engage the viewer with conditions of the present and to make visible inevitable (and sometimes unseen) human condi- tions. For Amplification Device’s old man, the process seems somewhat more im- portant than the outcome of his absurd
task. This old man might have been a Beckett character, hypothesising Vladimir or pebble-sucking Molloy, a wanderer, a stray, a filth with roadside hands and a sun-worn face. He is at the point where the cycle is at its most visible; beginning the delivery, before the literal is fully ar- ticulated and received.

Amplification Device appears like a film that has been shown repeatedly, like its old man. It is not however shot on 8, 16 or 35 mm film but shot and strung together digitally. It is stuck in the northern state of almost, between articulation and away.

(text for exhibition publication, An Approximate Call, allsopp&weir;, Permanent Gallery Brighton, 2007)