Limerick City Gallery of Art
Pery Square, Limerick, Ireland
13 July – 12 August, 2000
Triskel Arts Centre
Tobin Street, Cork, Ireland
10 February – 16 March, 2000
They can be viewed here:
Desire is not satisfied; it’s expelled.
Robert Gluck, Jack the Modernist, 1986.
The world uses up its difference as it goes from one conversion to another and tends toward a final state of thermal equilibrium, heat death.
Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature, 1984.
If Gluck and Prigogine have anything in common it’s the anxiety from the decade they wrote in, one symptomatic notorious for narcissistic greed. The merger of a minor queer novelist and major physicist is inappropriate but my Enthalpic works follow a similar misguided trajectory – enthalpy being a term borrowed from the science of thermodynamics that describes change, or rather heat transfer that results in order out of chaos (entropy). This science is then applied to pipeline mechanics and further interpreted through business management-speak.
The Pig Traps begin as models of sludge collection ducts that are part of the scraping process of pipeline cleaning and maintenance. As transparent macquettes separated from their conduits they become something else. They are machine-made retro plastic shapes, piggy or doggie style receptors of light, transparent purveyors of light, a collection of orifices or holes, ultra-submissive machines awaiting desire or penetration, vacated projectors, a potential threesome, open-ended gas space heaters, receptacles for expelled semen or cum traps, passive viewers or onlookers, stylish empty-headed bareback fuck machines.
There are many conflicting ideas in the work that come together in the finished works. There is, however, no resolution attempted, the critical success factor projected through on of the Pig Traps states that you need to create relational oscillations, i.e., there are links here that need to be understood relationally, connections between conflicting objects, formats and texts which share a common narrative.
All of the works are subject to a set of critical success factors – primary process performance measures in project management. These occur as text within the works or a vinyl lettering on the walls. Each describe a factor for achieving enthalpic pleasure which can be understood as the heat between individuals during social or sexual interaction.
A large wall piece acts as the ultimate interpretative aid. Each part of the enthalpic everything exhibition was discussed with a business management consultant who recorded the dialogue on flip chart sheets. This data was then entered into Microsoft Project software and the resulting GANTT chart graphically breaks down the entire artistic or aesthetic experience into specific activities of looking, feeling and thinking. Links were then added between the works to calculate the elapsed time taken to understand the concepts in the show, as well as the slacks and delays that occur in the interpretative process.
Modern techniques and technology are used throughout but the aim of the work is to blend formal and interpretative strategies to create a different kind of visual experience, where language leads the viewer through possible narratives between the pieces.
I am working on some additional pieces at present where I hope to collaborate with a theoretical physics professor in Dublin who was involved in figuring out the fractal geometry of bubbles. The works will be illuminated photographs which used optical fibre technology.
List of works
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN ACHIEVING ENTHALPIC PLEASURE #1:
REDUCE MAN-HOURS USED TO EVACUATE BANALITY
“Irish Management Institute Window”
Colour Ink-jet print on vinyl, wood stretcher
“Irish Management Institute Classroom”
Video, duration 17 minutes; polycarbonate chair
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN ACHIEVING ENTHALPIC PLEASURE #2:
OVER-UTILISE STRATEGIES THAT CREATE GASEOUS PRESSURE
“Drag on a Fag”
Six c-type colour photographs, PVC, stainless steel
Hammer, cigatette foils, polycarbonate chair
“Pigs at Work”
Five ink and graphite on velvet card
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN ACHIEVING ENTHALPIC PLEASURE #3: CREATE RELATIONAL OSCILLATIONS THAT MINIMISE EXHALATION
Three acrylic sculptures on concrete pedestals, slide projection, video
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN ACHIEVING ENTHALPIC PLEASURE #4:
REPROCESS ACTIONS THAT RE-SYNCHRONISE HEAT BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS
Clear plastic, polycarbonate, chain, air compressor, two acrylic chairs, vinyl lettering
“Flip Chart Sheets”
Felt-tip maker on paper
Colour ink-jet print, laminated
Off-set lithographic print
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN ACHIEVING ENTHALPIC PLEASURE #5:
TRANSFORM PARTNERSHIPS INTO COMPLEX ALLIANCES BASED ON TRAPS
Overhead projector, etched glass projection bed
Off-set lithograph cut-out, double wall polycarbonate, silver contact paper
Four c-type colour photographs, PVC
Two c-type colour photographs, PVC
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN ACHIEVING ENTHALPIC PLEASURE #6:
ENCOURAGE SPECULAR ACTIVITIES WHICH ARE LINGUISTICALLY VACUOUS
Twenty panels of cork mounted onto MDF with rub down transfers; taxi destination instruction sheets, vinyl lettering
Three panels of cork mounted onto homosote with rub down transfers, c-type colour photograph, PVC, MDF
Alan Phelan would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the following:
ETP (Ireland) Ltd: Noel Kelly and Fergus O’Connell
Haus: Garret O’Hagan and Emer Shaw
Powderbubble: Leah Hilliard and Karim Rehmani
Office of Contemporary Art: Anya von Gösseln