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The Golden Calf

Jeffrey Shaw

This work is constituted by a white pedestal on which there stands an LCD colour monitor connected to computing machinery by a cable running through the pedestal. The viewer of this work picks up and holds this monitor in his hands. The screen shows a representation of the pedestal with a computer-generated image of a golden calf on top. By moving the monitor around the actual pedestal the viewer can examine this golden calf from above and below and all sides. Thus the monitor functions like a window that reveals a virtual body apparently located physically in the real space.

The golden calf has a shiny mirror-like surface in which the viewer sees reflections of the actual venue of the installation. These are previously digitised photographs of the room that are 'reflection-mapped' onto the calf's skin. While the viewer himself is not included in this digitised reflection of the environment, he does see himself refelected on the glass surface of the LCD screen.The immateriality of this golden calf is further emphasised by the fact that only its outer surfaces are modelled, so that if the viewer moves the monitor screen into the calf's body none of its interior surfaces are visible.

In The Golden Calf the body is no longer a corporeal object but instead the immaterial subject of a specifically physical process of disclosure. When moving the monitor screen up, down and round the pedestal, the viewer performs what looks like a ceremonial dance around a technological pilaster construing an almost tangible phantasm.


Software: Gideon May


1994: Ars Electronica 94: Intelligente Ambiente, Brucknerhaus Linz, Austria.

1995: The Interaction 95, Introduction to Interactive Installations, International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS), Gifu, Japan; Trigon-Personale 95, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria.

1996: Artifices 4, Saint-Denis, France.

1999: National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, UK.

2000: Das Fünfte Element - Geld oder Kunst, Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany.