Entering the John Hansard Gallery you walk into a large open space, of which one wall is a smooth curved surface with a projection of sandy hills. This space is called 'Observer Effect'. Once in the room, sensors detect your appearance which causes human figures to show on screen, that walk towards you in a confrontational manner. Yet they stop, and stand. They fidget, scratching their arms, looking around, but that is all. When the room is busier, more figures appear in relation to what activity is going on. The two spaces, projected and reality, are connected.
This work is based upon Cotterrell's experience in Afghanistan, but how? There's no guns, there's no blood. This is a different and challenging view of the medias representation of the war. The relation between the viewer and the work, makes you feel linked and part of the scene. The theme of connection carries on and you walk into a second room 'Searchlight 2', of which a tonne and half of chalk has been moulded into a terrain landscape which mimics the landscape in the first. Little figures are projected onto the surface that move around. You begin to question who these figures are, soldiers? Civilians? Humans none the less.
The third room is two dome shaped walls, as if you're standing inside a ball called 'Apparent Horizon' which simulates the landscape of this work. Clouds flow over that are mathematically made and never repeat themselves, like reality. The ground moves as if you're walking through it. This is to imitate the military simulation programmes used. The calm atmosphere gives you time to consider the other side of war that we do not see. The part that there are civilians living amongst these wars and there are soldiers that dont just shoot guns and throw bombs. The technology used is all to recreate the war, so is this all supposed to be like a game or is it reality? We feel connected to what is going on, as our presence in this space is connected to what we see.
A final room is set-up like a surveillance room, and it's in here that you think about the idea of control. Is this equipment, that is real and what is used by the military, supposed to be a recreation, or is it part of a game that controls the war, or is controlling the area inside the gallery? A very imaginative and thought provoking installation by Cotterrell that leaves me wondering still if its all a synthetic creation or reality.