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Heaven's Gate

Jeffrey Shaw

Heavens Gate as a video installation was first shown in the neoclassical stairwell of Felix Meritis. In other exhibition spaces the work usually occupies a specially constructed completely dark room. The video image is projected over the whole ceiling, and the floor is entirely covered by a mirror on which the visitors stand and see both their own reflection and the reflection of the projected image on the ceiling. The otherwise total darkness of the space creates for the viewers a state of visual suspension between these two image planes.

The conceptual and iconographic references in this work are largely derived from Baroque ceiling paintings and aerial/satellite pictures of the surface of The earth. These images alternate in a computer-processed videographic morphology that deconstructs and manipulates the constituent pixels of the original images and then anamorphically reconfigures them in a virtual three-dimensional space. This digital tromp l'oeil characterises the awesome contemporary view down from space which inverts the ecstatic Baroque gaze up to the heavens. Further iconographic references in this work conjoin these viewing extremities - the Futurist embrace of the aerial point of view and the spatial apotheoses of El Greco, William Blake and Piero Manzoni, amongst others.

The presentation of this work at the various exhibition sites was each time addapted to the site architecture. In some cases this ment that the work was shown inside a specially constructed black box - but wherever possible the work was integrated into and made use of the building architecture. For instance at Felix Meritis the work was installed in the opening of a tall circular stairwell, while in the Museum Ettlingen it exploited the existing baroque decor.


Production: Video Hilversum, Netherlands


1987: Felix Meritis 1787-1987 Festival, Shaffy Theater, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

1988: The Third Australian Video Festival, Powerhouse, Sydney, Australia.

1991/92: Outer Space: 8 Photo & Video Installations, South Bank Centre, UK: Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, UK; Camden Arts Centre, London, UK; Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, UK.

1992: Fotografie Biennale Rotterdam III, Netherlands; Der enfesselte Blick, Kunstmuseum Bern, Seedamm-Kulturzentrum, Bern, Switzerland.

1994: Technoart: An Interactive New Media Exhibition, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Canada.

1995: MultiMediale 4, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany; Arslab, Torino, Italy; Trigon-Personale Ô95, Neue Galerie Graz, Austria.

1996:The Butterfly Effect, Soros Center for Contemporary Arts Budapest, Mücsarnok, Hungary; Landeskunstwochen Ettlingen, Museum Ettlingen, Germany.

1999: Heaven, Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany.

2000: Himmelfahrt, Trilogie zeitgenössischer Kunst zur Jahrtausendwende, Munich, Germany; Heaven, Tate Gallery, Liverpool, UK.