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Dan Shipsides - 3 Points Down to Zero


HD Video with animation
Dan Shipsides

This work was made in response to an invite by AEMI (Artist Experimental Moving Image) in relation to PORT, RIVER, CITY project based in relation to Dublin Docklands.

Fortunately, it was a very open brief. Utilising several attitudes of pata-perception I took as a starting points the fact that in 1837 Poolbeg lighthouse (at the end of a 2.5km granite sea wall which channels the river into the Irish Sea) was the datum point for low tide sea-level zero and that the highest point in County Dublin, Kippure Mountain (757m) forms the source of the river Liffey. Lots of other interesting, concrete and abstract points fell in and out of the project but these two points seemed to form a good starting point for a triangulation, or a syzygy, of star installations and overnight camps. The star is a 3.5m metal frame structure which is mounted and dismantled in-situ and transported on a specially made all terrain wheeled cart.

I configured a journey of three overnight camps from Kippure down through the city, spending a night on a rooftop and ending on the Poolbeg sea wall – so a journey of three points down to Zero in some respects. This experience generated most of the footage for the new work, much of which was shot through a variety of bespoke made kaleidoscopes, and then it was conceptually and materially added to through conversations partly with passerby’s but mostly with my nine year old son, and further incidental video and audio footage. The three points occupied also triggered a set of signals – not just in the star symbol installed in each location – but in a revealing and seeking to un-align many of the signs, signals and orientations that become evident in these environments. Throughout the process there was a kind of unpacking of the conceptual framework – so that the work is allowed to shift across many possible meanings – exploring the concept of zero so that it touches on ideas of height, depth, lateral distance, time, possession, economy, trade, austerity, nationhood, emigrancy, immigrancy, loss and death.

Echoing the trianulation the work is in three parts:

Point 1: The Unaligned Signal
Point 2: The Ledger
Point 3: The privilege of approaching Zero from this side

All the audio and music was constructed in relation to the site and to the loose conceit of three triangulated points.


Thanks to: Cliona Harmey, Artist Experimental Moving Image (AEMI), Dublin Port Company, Business to Arts, Dublin City Council, Dublin Docklands and Pallas Projects and Studios.

These formed the 1st 3 Syzygetic Experiments with this star: see: 'Syzygetic Experiment No. 5' (Tivoli Fringe 2022).