THE TENTH LEVEL CCA, Glasgow, Sat 16 Feb-Sat 30 Mar
What do crop circles, psychological experiments and
religious cults have in common?
Ask installation artist Rod Dickinson. He’s dealt with them all. ‘For the last ten years my work has been concerned with
the mechanics of belief systems and the kind of social structures
that enable people to take up quite extreme beliefs,’ he says. For his latest show at CCA, Dickinson will stage a re- enactment of Stanley Milgram’s infamous 1961 ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiment and will screen a film based on a
Reconstruction: Obedience to Authority electro-shock machine
political sermon given by Jim Jones, leader of the South American Jonestown commune, that ended
in mass suicide in 1978.
Milgram’s experiment has become a benchmark study in human behavioural science. He set up a lab in which two people were introduced to one another as ‘the teacher’ and ‘the learner’. The two participants were then removed from one another’s sight and ‘the teacher’ was asked to administer electric shocks to ‘the learner’ who, unbeknown to them, was an actor emitting false screams which were piped through to ‘the teacher’. The results were surprising.
‘In the case of Milgram’s experiment, against everyone’s expectation, the majority of people who took part in it gave this guy what they thought were 450 volt electric shocks until he was effectively dead,’ says Dickinson. His re-enactment of the experiment, using actor and collaborator Graeme Edler, will take place on the opening night (Friday 15 February) and on Sunday 17 February at 3pm.
Working again with Edler, Dickinson’s film The Promised Land acts out a political sermon delivered by Jim Jones, leader of the People’s Temple, a religious and political group.
‘Jim Jones was a very respected community leader when he was based in San Francisco, whose housing and social work schemes were very influential on the local political scene,’ says Dickinson. ‘I am interested in how someone could go from that position to ending up in the jungle in Guyana and effectively orchestrating the deaths of nearly a thousand people. Jones himself dressed like a caricature: he wore these fantastic sunglasses and modelled himself a little bit on Elvis, and his speeches were heavily rehearsed. In the middle of these sermons, he would also do fake miracle healings where he would pretend to cure members of his congregation from cancer, by pulling week- old chicken livers from their mouths.’
Dickinson sees many parallels between the two case studies. ‘The relationship between Milgram’s experiment and the Jonestown community is that they are both manufactured situations that people were put in, where they were asked to do absurd, impossible, incomprehensible things. In both cases, almost without exception, they did what they were asked.’ (Sarah Lowndes)
I For further information log onto www.mi/gramreenactment.org: WWW/onestownreenactme/it.org or
w. thetenth/evel. org
EDUCATIONAL SERIES EXPRESS YOURSELF Channel 4, starts Fri 22 Feb, 9.30am
Genesis by Chad McCail
When it comes to contemporary art programmes aimed at a younger audience. there's a distinct lack on our television screens. Express Y0urse/f however. addresses that void in this five-part series that aims to make contempOrary art more accessible and promote a greater understanding of Visual culture. Produced by one of Scotland's
leading independent media companies. warkclements. the programme enlists the talents of six internationally renowned artists based in Scotland: Chad McCall. Wendy McMurdo. lain Kettles and Susie Hunter, Victoria Morton and Nathan Coley. Working closely with groups of schoolchildren aged 9—1 2 years old. the artists unravel the intricacies and thinking behind their own individual practice and then help the children to create a piece of art.
‘The main aim of the programme was not to make it patronising.‘ explains the show's producer Elspeth O'Hare. 'We made a conscious effort not to make it a "kiddie" kind of programme. something that adults could watch as well.‘
With the help of Patricia Fleming who was art consultant on the project. O'Hare and the team have come up with five informative and entertaining programmes that break down the barriers assooated With contemporary art.
‘PatriCia makes art very easy and very accessible and that was one of the reasons I though she
would be ideal to have on board.’ says O'Hare. ‘The artists have to unpick their process and that is difficult for them She was really helpful when it came to that.‘
The featured artists work in diverse areas: Chad McCall does cartoon-like drawings and paintings that parody children's books; Wendy lvlclvlurdo uses the latest technology to create digitally manipulated images: lain Kettles and Susie Hunter create inflatable 3D sculptures: Victoria Morton is an abstract painter and Nathan Coley's protect-based work is dependent on research. consultation and deCision-making.
‘The response from the children was fantashc.’ says O'Hare. ‘So much of the art that is taught in schools is basically :50 \.’£ll'|£lll()llf3 of the one picture. But the results that we got off the children were incredible and all very different'
O'Hare hopes that the foiinat of Express Yourself could be used in another creative area. be it drama 0r music. Given the eyidehce of the work produced by the children. it's an avenue that should be explored. il-lelen Monaghanl
FOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS lngleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 9 Mar 0000
FOLir Photographers brings together four British artists who deai with landscape using the basics of photography: time. composition. distance and repetition. The artists push the camera as a mechanical tool to achieve images that rely on skz‘il. tenaCity and chance. This is f_)hotograph\l,r without the gimmicks and With great reSLilts.
David Williams. known mostly for his documentary work. has over the past five years been building the series Stillness 8. OCCt/rre/ice. Taken at Portobello Beach near Edinburgh. these expanses of pale. foggy seascapes are sparsely inhabited by swimming children and distant boats. The beautiful pale grey. blurred colour fields look and feel more- like paintings than photograpas.
A new set of photograins by Devon based Susan Deiges charts the life of a bluebell. Although beautfui. they don't compare to the gutsy and Visceral duality of her earliei work. where she buried film and printed the images from its chance exposure underground.
Patricia Macdohald's aerial photographs will be famil;ai' to the Edinburgh audience: perhaps too familiar. Three of the six 'inages snoy'xn are entitled self portrait. one is of the art:sts' shadow shetclwr-g oat oyer a saltmarsh. the other two of the shadox'.’ cast by the plane from ‘.'.’l‘.|(2l‘. the pictures were taken. There is soi'iething guite adolescent about these images. which detracts from the often serious eriyironmental issues with y-rhich Macdonald’s ‘.'.’()."K is otter: concerned.
From the series, Stillness and Occurence by David Williams
Curiously. the most compelling .‘xerk is the oldest :n the exh-bition. Made ll‘ the mid ids. it as part of t'ie series. The Sea Hori.~'oI>. by Gary Fabian Miller. The pit:t.ires ‘.'.'ere taken ‘roii‘. a fixed point on thereof o‘ t'leait'sts' home. looking across the Hl‘ytil Severn: keeping all technical \..il-'.ables static. the series .tl‘aiis lllt‘ :tliar‘giig ttliaiactei of the ‘.'.’tili‘;’ and sky. According to the .ittttoi".panyzog limited edition book. the house". s i":‘- "edge of the kiiox'.'n world".
(it) and see this exhil‘itioi‘. then take a lookout attiossArthui's Seat o7 stride .ip (Ialton l lit. and tio'rs;'tle' you" suirouhdings anew. .i'en'li‘er Mutéuw
. THE LIST 81