Abstract- 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.