The making of Long Shadows

An installation inspired by a poem...a diorama of an assembly in thrall to a marvellous and eternal world on the other side of a glass screen. The installation has been displayed at UCA Farnham MA show in August 2017 and at the Strand Gallery Eleven show in September 2017.

Long Shadows

Lately I've been thinking about how our lives become encoded

loaded into the cloud again and again

and while we have a small footprint in the real physical world

in the digital world we cast long shadows

Closeup of video animation projected over some of glass sentinels 

Closeup of video animation projected over some of glass sentinels 


About the installation

The poem, bar the final draft, was written on a train jouney. At roughly the same time I had been exploring casting with hot glass and also exploring asemic writing and the use of binary in 2D.

In my head I saw a congregation in thrall to a dream of a better world on the other side of a glass screen I was pondering on how people currently interact with social media hoping for validation, fearing censure. It seems to me that the digital world is functionally acting like a spirit realm, and that perhaps it fulfils this same role in the modern world.

The layout of the glass pieces that I came to call sentinels was intended to reference a congregation and pulpit, or political gathering and stage. Lighting was low and torches were provided for people to explore the work, a practical solution to the lighting challenges and also a way to create a sense of being in a discovery situation as with the opening of a tomb replete with representations of a community's daily life.


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Making the Video

I recall the music came first, some snatches of sound and a few sequenced notes. The images began with reworkings of sentinel photos.

Over time as I sought to develop a longer piece that would keep the interest of a return viewer, the soundscape became richer and other elements came into the graphics. My explorations of asemic writing entered directly into the graphics and in the way I treated photographic images, the latter I blew up so large that picture elements gave the impression of being traces of a written or typewritten work.


Making the glass sentinels

The sentinels were initially simple oblong sandwiches of glass with a sheet of aluminium foil between with three holes cut to create binary zeros, the form itself being both a binary one and a simple representation of the upright human form. 

Over time I introduced variations with greater degrees of randomness. The size varied and the foil became torn and tattered. In some pieces the foil became longer than the glass and wrapped round it forming a scar or mask on the face of the sentinel. Finally the backs of the sentinels were coated in black paint and scratched through with asemic scripts.

Scar-faced sentinels

Scar-faced sentinels

Video from the live installation