Ariane Noël de Tilly
The different “versions” of John Massey’s As the
Hammer Strikes (A Partial Illustration)
John Massey’s installation As the Hammer Strikes (A Partial
Illustration) (1982) was initially shown as three synchronized 16
mm film projections, one in color and two in black and white with sound.
The original version was problematic because it was difficult to maintain
the synchronicity of the three films. As part of a survey exhibition of
the artist in 1994, discussions took place between John Massey, Ihor Holubizky,
curator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Jean Gagnon, then curator
of media art and film at the National Gallery of Canada, about finding
a suitable format to present the artwork while preserving the artist’s
intent. The solution was to migrate it onto laser disks. Its presentation
was then limited to video monitors, but improved by PC controlled synchronicity.
Nevertheless, the film installation became a video installation. In 2000,
the work, still on laser disks, was presented at the Ydessa Hendeles Foundation,
but this time, the images were projected onto the wall. In 2004, in order
to facilitate its presentation, it was migrated onto DVDs. The work is
currently exhibited as three projections onto the wall, which means that
even though its support has been upgraded, it is now shown as it was when
created, i.e. three synchronized projections.
This poster will delve into the history of the presentations of the work
and the process involved in the work migration decisions over the last
20 years. Furthermore, it will highlight the impact of such transformations
on its authenticity and integrity. Challenges involved in the definition
of the script will also be outlined.