Equinox is a three dimensional zoetrope, an optical illusion, that considers the delicate calibration of the earth’s ecosystems. Spinning on an axis, a giant lotus flower hosts an orbit of insects. As the flower rotates, its petals act as ‘shutters’, animating the arthropods within. The bugs appear to dance in harmony as they clamber, flutter, eat and pollinate. The flower opens at dusk and closes at dawn. The Artworks title derives from the perfect balance of day at night evident at equinox. The Lotus Lily functions as a precious vessel conserving insect ecology, their enhanced scale underscoring the cataclysm that would follow their decline. Collishaw has selected quotations from HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and William Blake, passages which praise the complex beauty of nature, to accompany the work.
This bestial painting was found in an old pornographic magazine. Collishaw blew it up and mounted it on plywood. He then mechanised the image causing the zebra’s thighs and torso to gyrate around the girl’s waist. From the other side of the plywood panel it appears as though a small steel man animates the scene, like those seen on weather vanes. However, on closer inspection, it becomes evident that it is an impersonal motor that grinds steadily on beneath them, controlling the girl, the zebra and the little man.
Many Victorian fairy paintings contain sinister elements of violence contrasting with their otherwise enchanting and ethereal qualities.
Collishaw borrowed some of these characters to perform in a three-dimensional Zoetrope, an updated version of a Nineteenth Century animation device. As the machine rotates, an animated scene appears that is both compelling and unsavoury.
Like many acts of violence in painting or the cinema it is easy to become emotionally detached to vicious behaviour. The Zoetrope’s uncannily fast revolution evokes the rush of adrenaline triggered by outbreaks of violence.
Magic Lantern was commissioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
They wanted a temporary work, to be exhibited in the Cupola, which reflected the V&A’s standing as a monument to cultural achievement. Collishaw built a large zoetrope in the octagonal structure of the cupola, animating large moths that flutter around the glowing interior and transforming the crown of the museum into something resembling a lantern. The cupola was lit to represent the museum itself as a beacon of light to which objects of beauty, activity and life are drawn.
The zoetrope was invented in Victorian times, and has been updated to animate three-dimensional models rather than the archetypal two-dimensional zoetrope. The slot through which the illusion is usually viewed has been replaced with a stroboscope, a more contemporary type of shutter. The work thus bridges the time-span from the museum’s inception to the present day.