Turner Prize-winner Simon Starling takes a 'ghost train' ride around Tate Britain


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Turner Prize winner Simon Starling has taken a “ghost train” ride around Tate Britain’s past exhibits in a new film work that even has a little Harry Potter magic sprinkled over it.

Phantom Ride, which is projected onto a screen in the Millbank site’s Duveen galleries, explores the “ghosts of artworks that have occupied the space in the past”.

The seven-minute film, described by Starling as a “floating eye making a smooth, effortless journey” is a trip back through 20 artworks displayed in the galleries over the past 70 years.

Phantom Ride’s name refers to films made in the 19 century where cameramen would be strapped to the front of trains to give audiences a dramatic sense of motion.

To achieve the sweeping style in 2013, Starling used the latest in motion capture technology, more regularly employed in Hollywood blockbusters.

The sound of the cameras’ machinery only serves to provide an eerie soundtrack that echoes through the halls. “Maybe there’s a little Harry Potter here,” he added.

He worked with a crew of 25 shooting over six nights while the gallery was closed to visitors, it then spent months in post production to match the shots and add in computer generated imagery of the artworks they were not able to physically film.

The artist described the work as “tracking the shadows of past exhibitions and the ghosts of works seen here before”.

This marks the second year of the Tate Britain Commission, in which artists are asked to reimagine the Tate’s collection and the Duveen Galleries space.

Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain, said: “Simon Starling was an obvious choice for us in terms of an artist who things about space and history.”

She described the “ambitious project” as “both referring to cinematic history but also a ghost train you might have in a fair where everything comes in front of your eyes in a split second”.

After landing the commission, Starling studied the archives and found pictures of rubble when the building had been damaged during the Blitz.

He said: “There was a moment of rupture. It’s a work thinking about how you can connect to these bigger issues. All the works featured in the film are trying to deal with notions of violence with war and conflict in different ways.”

The artist continued: “It’s an attempt to think how those objects can resonate in the wider world beyond the confines of these bombastic walls.”

Starling won the Turner Prize in 2005 for his work Shedboatshed, in which he sailed down the Rhine in a boat made out of a shed, before returning it to the original state at the other end.

Ms Curtis said: “It’s like the building itself is making a noise. Normally the Duveen Galliers feel rather ecclesiastical but it is making it more like a castle and less like a church.”