Simon Starling is an English conceptual artist born in 1967 in Epsom, Surrey. He is fascinated by the processes involved in transforming one object into another. He creates objects, installations, and pilgrimage style journeys which convey the ideas of nature, technology and economics. He describes his work as: “‘the physical manifestation of a thought process’, revealing hidden histories and relationships.’”
Tabernas Desert Run (2004)
Starling crossed the Tabernas Desert in Spain using an improvised electric bicycle. The only waste produced was water in which he used up the water to paint an illustration of a cactus. No waste was produced in this piece. This piece showed the contrast between the efficient cactus and the contrived efforts of man is comic and insightful. This emphasized the commercial exploitation of natural resources in the region.
Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture No. 2) (2005)
Starling dismantled a shed and recreated it into a boat loaded with the remains of the shed. Starling dismantled a shed and recreated it into a boat loaded with the remains of the shed. Both pilgrimages provide a buttress against the pressures of modernity, mass production and global capitalism.
One Ton, II (2005)
This piece focuses on energy consumption, the mass amount of energy used to produce small amounts of platinum. One ton of ore which was mined from the South African open cast mine was needed to produce the five handmade platinum prints.
This piece was presented as a slide projection in which Starling voyaged the waters of Scotland’s Loch Long. The boat is a 20 foot long clinker-built wooden craft called Dignity. The boat was salvaged from the sea bed and it was restored by its previous owner. It was fitted at Cove Park with a single cylinder, marine steam engine. Dignity was both vessel and fuel for Autoxylopyrocycloboros. The boat eventually sank back to the sea bed of Loch.
Phantom Ride (2013)
The Tate Britain Commission invited Starling to develop a new work that responded to the Tate collection. In 2013, Starling created a film piece where he claimed will take you on a “‘rollercoaster ride on invisible rails’” through histories and memories of Tate Britain’s famous Duveen galleries. Starling uses huge projection screens and he reveals significant artworks and events that occurred in the space previously like ghostly apparitions. Starling uses motion control technology that reveals the rubble of the destructive bomb-blast that ruined the space in 1940, confronted an up-turned Jaguar jet fighter and iconic paintings that float in mid air.
Starling describes Phantom Ride:
“‘The phantom ride was a genre of film popular in the very early days of cinema. A camera was fixed to a moving vehicle to simulate a journey for an immobile cinema audience. They sat pinned to their seats, white-knuckled for fear they might derail on the next precipitous bend. The train tracks or the road anticipated the trajectory of the ‘phantom’ vehicle. Here though, the way has vanished. The highly precise and repeatable movements of the huge robotic arm on the similarly track-bound ‘motion control camera’ used to make this film facilitate a rollercoaster ride on invisible rails. The film’s soundtrack is the only remaining evidence of the camera’s week-long presence in the Duveens – the audible contractions and expansions, the ascents, descents and contortions, of a very real machine.'”