Fat Butcher's Photosonica
North London V-tard splicing beauty to the beats

Peter Greenaway, Last Supper Installation

So I read in the Guardian that Peter Greenaway was invited to create an AV installation to promote the newly-restored Last Supper by some da Vinci bloke. Greenaway’s messed around with VJing before; at last year’s onedotzero he premiered a piece that explored screen-in-screen technique and suitcases. With this piece the concern was that he’d damage the painting or blaspheme – as screens go, a 510-year-old vignette of a mortal God’s last meal is one expensive and risky backdrop.

According to the article,

“Greenaway’s production team said they are now keen to find an art gallery in Britain that could stage The Last Supper show on a full-size replica. Meanwhile, Greenaway plans to repeat the trick on Las Meninas by Velázquez, Picasso’s Guernica, Monet’s Waterlilies and a Jackson Pollock in New York.

His ultimate ambition is to take on Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, and talks have begun with its gatekeepers at the Vatican.”

So perhaps we can expect this kind of installation to be a new growing trend. Having just enjoyed a couple of similar comissions myself (see After The Ice, and also a multimedia music and light show about Marc Chagall I animated last year) I can say that it’s extremely pleasurable to take apart and rebuild painted works digitally, and the opportunity to play with famed images, iconoclastically, reverently or experimentally can generate quite a hypnotic reverie in a crowd well-versed with the original. At its best I think this kind of installation can be a document of how the image could have come into being, physically, as a record of instinctive gesture and practised, systematic action, and a rejuvenation of a work now absorbed into the popular consciousness until its original passion has become soggy and flavourless. At it’s worst it could be a load of flashing lights and ‘modern opera’ in an austere flagstoned setting surrounded by money men holding their breath. But until I’ve seen one of these Greenaway pieces up close I’ll reserve judgement…

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