Charles Atlas – Joints 4tet Ensemble

Charles Atlas is an American artist whose primary medium is video. Atlas also experiments with live electronic performance and is the pioneer of the development of media-dance – which also know as dance for camera.

This above installing is named Joints 4tet Ensemble. The one thing that realy struck me about this installation is the way in which the tv screens have been placed and how the visual element – the films – have been displayed. I love the use of the the electronic ready-mades but am not sure whether it is suit to my work  – or within this my current installation. The tv’s are balanced in height and it seems that they have been carefully placed in position as there is depth in the installation.


This is a really interesting thing to point out actually – as there is a physical installation depth – the TV sizes and bulkyness, the use of floor space as well as the depth within each film.


Installation Notes

Joints 4tet Ensemble 1971–2010 is a set of nine films originally shot on Super 8 colour film in 1971. It depicts close-ups of choreographer Merce Cunningham’s joints – ankles, knees, elbows and wrists – edited into four synced channels, choreographed across ten monitors and accompanied by an ambient soundtrack by the composer John Cage. The ten monitors are of different sizes and types and are installed on a rectangular black floor area and mounted on steel mono-stands and rolling carts, forming a sculpture of electronic ready-mades, arranged like a group of people in a crowd. Atlas originally considered the film footage a sketch, only editing and constructing it for installation in 2010. The artist has an unrivalled archive of unedited footage of Cunningham, alongside other key choreographers such as Michael Clark, which he is continually revisiting.

The title Joints 4tet Ensemble refers to the elements that the piece is composed from: film portraits of Cunningham’s joints were edited into a four channel ‘quartet’, played (out of sync) on the multiple monitors, as a visual equivalent of a classical music ensemble, accompanied by four channels of collaged sound. These are re-workings of ambient sound recordings made by John Cage in the 1980s while on his travels across the globe with Cunningham, during their own long-term collaboration. The soundtrack is representative of Cage’s use of ambient sound as material, an idea he set forth in the seminal work 4’33” 1952, where the score instructs the performer not to play the piece in front of them, but to remain silent for four minutes and thirty three seconds, forcing the audience to listen to the sounds of the environment around them.


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