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June 08, 2006

Turbulence Commission:


"Monolith[s]" by Michael Takeo Magruder

Monolith[s] juxtaposes two icons of British culture: stone circles (Stonehenge in particular) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). "We are in a gravitational pull of past and future." (1)

Lacking declarative evidence of its original purpose, Stonehenge is a site of contested meaning. "It suffers from polysemia, in that it signifies a range of meanings, discursively contested through image and text." (2) Visitors are kept at a distance, no longer permitted to walk among the stones and physically experience their immense scale.

In "Monolith[s]," Magruder has appropriated the perspective that many images of the monument give: that of the majestic site at a distance, the glow of the sunset or moonrise radiating from the horizon, its backdrop. But Magruder's virtual world IS approachable—indeed, the user may immerse herself in it or fly above it. As she does, the temporal and spatial dimensions of her own immediate environment are absorbed and rearranged into a constantly evolving virtual realm in which the history of the Information Age materializes.

Formulated according to motifs and proportions of ancient architecture, infused with fundamental mathematics of modern digital communication systems, each genesis of the artwork's geometry is unique. Variables such as the time of day, the viewer's location on the Earth, and the position of the Earth around the sun are incorporated into the artwork, thus instilling into the realm functions of a rudimentary clock, global positioning system, and solar calendar.

Requirements: The technical specifications are detailed on the Setup/Help page. Please read them before proceeding.

"Monolith[s]" is a 2006 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Michael Takeo Magruder is an American artist based in the UK who received his formal education at the University of Virginia, USA, graduating with a degree in biological science. His artistic production has been exhibited worldwide and encompasses an eclectic mix of forms ranging from futuristic stained-glass windows, digital light-screens and modular sculptures, to architectural manipulations, ephemeral video projections and interactive net-installations. His work seeks to reflect upon the dualistic nature of media as both information source and cultural stimulant.

(1) Jeanette Winterson, "Weight"
(2) Andy Letcher, Jenny Blain, & Robert J. Wallis, "Re-viewing the Past: Discourse and Power in Images of Prehistory."

Posted by jo at June 8, 2006 09:04 AM