Installation view: Capp Street Project 20th Anniversary Exhibition, CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, 2003 © CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, 2003
Installation view: Lichtkunst aus Kunstlicht / light art from artificial light, ZKM Center for Art an Media, Karlsruhe, 2006 © Franz Wamhof / ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, 2006

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Mike Kelley


Light (Time) - Space Modulator, 2003



Multimedia installation with 3 single-channel video projections, painted steel staircase, distortion pedal, amplifier, 98 digitalized slide transparencies, 5 glazed ceramic funerary / incense urns, aluminum, and Plexiglas projection screens.
8 min 51 sec
Commissioned by CCAC Wattis Institute, San Francisco

Mike Kelley’s Light (Time)-Space Modulator installation consists of a spiral staircase of c. 8 meters suspended horizontally from the ceiling to revolve above the floor. Rotating projectors built into the structure transmit three sets of slides into the surrounding space, with the rotation generating image distortion and fragmentation. The first set of slides shows snapshots of a 1970s Hispanic family in their home; the second set reproduces a restaging of the same shots but in the artist’s home and studio. The third set alternately transmits shots from the two earlier series. Gradual dissolves create the impression of a haunted house, with the former Hispanic owners seeming to re-occupy the dwelling.
Kelley’s work is intended as a dysfunctional Time Machine, in which the fusion of past and present reveals a dystopian temporality but also the outcome of Kelley's preoccupation with the beginnings of "Constructivist" sculpture. As in László Moholy-Nagy's kinetic machine/sculpture Light-Space-Modulator the spatial configuration in Kelley’s work is dissolved by means of projection.
(Mike Kelley, "Light (Time)-Space Modulator," in: Capp Street Project: 20th Anniversary Exhibition, exhib. cat. Logan Galleries of the CCAC San Francisco 2003)


*1954 Detroit, MI, USA, ✝ 2012