Self-Rescue Mechanism (1998)

Self-Rescue Mechanism was a collaboration between Jim Dingilian in New York and Alan Phelan in Dublin, exhibited at Arthouse, Dublin; The Art Exchange Show, New York; and EV+A 98, Limerick. The project was accompanied by a website which encapsulated the ideas explored by the artists through text, sculpture, interactive media, and installations.

The project used case studies of auto-erotic asphyxiation as source material but not to sensationalise but as back stories for a series of works exploring sentimental love. 12 installations were made for the Arthouse building in Temple Bar and an extensive website documented the online collaboration and chats between the two artist who were working from Dublin and New York at the time. The site was more than just chats but created several hyper-text narratives that rewrite the sexual transgression into stories of obsession, compulsion and romance.

This is a place between ideas and objects, a work zone where thoughts, narratives and plans were recorded and worked through in preparation for an exhibition at the Arthouse, Dublin from February 20th to March 20th 1998.

The web site is more than simply an opening up or highlighting of the creative process. It is as much about distancing as it is about creating connections. Multiple tracks will be taken without much concern for being on the right one.

We do not want to limit the collaboration to the two of us and welcome responses, comments and discussion. We need others like you – but not in order to interact with the work, not in order to complete the work – simply to work along side us.

The index page brings you to a series of black pages which are the entry points to stories, chat scripts, plans, and pictures.

The chat button at the top of most pages brings you to a bulletin board where new stories, ideas and comments were posted in preparation and delivery of the project.


LIST OF WORKS @Arthouse, Dublin

Feb 20th to March 20th, 1998

Ground Floor

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 1

scaffolding, blue lining fabric, wood, cement, voice-over of IRC script edits by Joe Duffy (duration approx 39 minutes)

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 2

wax cast chair

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 3

wax bottles, light fixture, aluminium shelf

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 4

video projection, foam screen, foam clothing (duration approx 25 minutes)

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 5

balsa wood soap-box cart, parachute, fan

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 6

1824 feet of foam tape, wax cassette tapes

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 7

speaker, microphone, solar cell, motor, magnets, lamp

First Floor Cafe

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 8

rope chandelier, slip knots, synthetic hair

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 9

off-set litho cut-out, double wall polycarbonate, flower arrangement

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 10

off-set litho cut-out, contact paper, double wall polycarbonate

Arts Information Bureau

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 11

acrylic tube, acrylic rods, sugar lenses

Self-Rescue Mechanism # 12

off-set litho cut-out, contact paper, leatherette, carbon ink, double wall polycarbonate


Self-Rescue Mechanism # 13

cb transmissions (duration approx 59 minutes)

[not installed and then reworked for an art fair in NY]

[contacts at the time – institution closed in 2002]

Tim Brennan, Artistic Director, and subsequently Niall Sweeney, Artistic Director,

Arthouse, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland

phone: +353-1-605 6800

fax: +353-1-605 6801

The Art Exchange Show,

2 Broadway, 17th Floor, New York

June 4-9, 1998

Towards a Self-Rescue Mechanism

(understanding the delight felt at the annihilation of the individual through a provisional situation)

– table top, folding chairs, fabric custom covers, citizens band radio receiver with periodic transmission of Joe Duffy audio recording of Internet Relay Chat discussions, grow-light bulb, electronic components, dialogic potential

– wax macquette for a scaffolding transmission tower, fabric custom cover (soft, slow melt)

– model for mass self rescue within a relational matrix (seating diagram)

– macrolon antenna radiation patterns

Two works were part of EV+A 98

Oct 2 – Nov 30, 1998

Self-Rescue Mechanism #10

Self-Rescue Mechanism #11

The works are located at:

Gaelteacht Cleaners Ltd.,

105 O’Connell Street, Limerick

What is an optimistic emphasis on the goodness of human beings called?

u r here

In our world we simply run out of directions after we have defined three dimensions (length, width and height for example). However there is no reason why there should be anything special about three dimensions apart from the fact that we live in a 3-dimensional world.

J: Can ships be ‘lost’ at the edge of the Earth?

A: Yes, at least in places where there are no mountains preventing this from occurring. The edge of the Earth is, in places a tremendous waterfall, and anything going over the edge will disappear into the ether. This can also happen to aircraft which fly off the edge.

You wait a few seconds and there’s no reply.

“Break one-seven for a radio check,”

… a little more nervously this time. The voice comes back,

“Push and go, radio check…”

Truth is clear to him,

he can see things others cannot see.

[chat] sorry, the www board is no longer active


Imagine an intermediary space, a place to pause but not linger, probably composed of two fixed walls and a few pieces of movable furniture meant to be uncomfortable, but don’t think of it in spatial terms, think of it as ideas projected back upon themselves.

[daniel] (fire washes the foolish)

“and they do” said Diderot

we chat regularily on IRC (internet relay chat)

on a channel called #sentimental on undernet servers