UCL News


Observing art

25 November 2005

UCL Slade lecturer Jo Volley has used one of the observatories in UCL's front quad to form the basis of her latest site-specific artwork, 'Transference'.

transference The observatory acts as both the medium and the message for the work, which explores the dual themes of measurement and illusion.

Inside the observatory are seven measuring instruments, seemingly embedded into the walls. However, on closer inspection they are actually digital prints of objects, which have been scanned into a computer and transferred onto the surface, creating a trompe l'oeil effect. The instruments range from a set of dividers and a setsquare, to a pair of callipers. All the instruments are set beneath a rim of gold leaf. "There are objects to measure inner space, outer space, flat space, curved space and all manner of space. I'm interested in ideas of measuring, so the instruments become part of the form as well as the expression," said Jo.

Measuring - and the instruments themselves - are themes that Jo has been exploring for the past 20 years. However, this installation is a relatively new departure for her as it is only the second time she has used scanning as a technique for representing the instruments; up until now she had generally painted them, in all their detail.

As with much of Jo's recent work, 'Transference' will eventually be painted over or 'buried'. To her the idea that her work will form a palimpsest for future generations is an intriguing one: "I'm interested in things that are buried. For some, covering over, or even 'destroying', an artwork is a difficult proposition but in this case it's part of the process; the artwork takes on a life of its own once I have finished with it."

'Transference' is part of an ongoing project of installation works called 'The Journeyman Works', which play with ideas of pictorial illusion in architectural spaces.

Image by Hua Kuan Sai