photographer: Angela von Brill
A new version of this 2012 work has been created for the triennial in Bad Rothenfelde. It shows twenty groups of computer-modelled human figures that, one after the other, fall over across the 312 metre length of the projection screen. They all fall over, only to stand up again to repeat the causal sequence anew. Each of these synthetic human figures is constructed according to the physiology of a push puppet. A push puppet is a common toy figurine held together by strings in its interior. It collapses when a button is pushed on its base to loosen its strings. A computational model of this toy is applied to the musculoskeletal physiology of the simulated human figures. The computational model controls the behaviour of the projected act of falling and the resultant disorder of the digital body and its limbs. The model also incorporates a random function that causes each group of figures to fall differently each time. Consequently, each derangement of fallen bodies is singular, and every causal sequence becomes a unique jumble. The title of this installation references Samuel Beckett’s well-known and bleakly uplifting pronouncement: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Failure and falling are synonyms in a language of anxiety that haunts the global consciousness. Falls are the bookends of each and every two-legged life, the uplifting necessity for an infant learning to become a two-legged creature that is capable of life. However, falls can also be dangerous, causing disability and incurable immobility.
Jeffrey Shaw participated in the group exhibition entitled ANiMAL: Art Science Nature Society Exhibition at the Taichung City Seaport Art Center in Taichung, Taiwan in 2019, among other things, and in the group exhibition called Kung Fu Motion EPFL at the ArtLab of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne in 2018. For more information on Jeffrey Shaw, visit https://www.jeffreyshawcompendium.com.