The World and its Inhabitants: the Ringmaster and the Globexpander on the Brooklyn Bridge, photo: Janette Beckman 1991
The World and its Inhabitants: First performance of the World with the creation of Nextus II, London England, photo Barbara Carlile. 1981
The World and its Inhabitants: A vitrine holding the initiation ceremony mask used in the first performance of the World in 1982, together with the dynamite-tea and cellophane wands used for sound effects. 1982
The World and its Inhabitants: The Ringmaster attaching pearl earrings to his ears earthling himself via a sponge to the lightning conductor on the roof. 1981
The World and its Inhabitants: The Copper Governor in full swing energizing Nextus II, Woldingham. 1982
The World and its Inhabitants: The Copper Governor in full swing energizing Nextus II, Woldingham,1983
The World and its Inhabitants: A selection of the World’s fifty two Inhabitants shown L to R are: Mungo Parks, Chinese Prestigitator, Natasha Rambova, Count Dyslexia, Pope, The Dolly Sisters, Enrico Caruso, The Classification of Idle Causes.
The World and its Inhabitants: View of the Installation of the World at Christine Burgin Gallery, New York. 2000
The World and its Inhabitants: The Classification of Idle Causes and the Eventuality of Labored Science. Installed at Christine Burgin Gallery, New York. 2000
The World and its Inhabitants: The Ringmaster’s Vitrine. The Ringmaster’s apparel and the Copper Govonor and various adapted flagellums, installed at Christine Burgin Gallery, New York. 2000
The World and its Inhabitants: Harrison Marine Chronometer facsimile on a piece of rock taken from zero degrees longitude. 1982
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ABOUT THE WORLD AND ITS INHABITANTS (1980 - present)
n work since 1980, The World and Its Inhabitants was started after being influenced by a scientific article on Andrew Crosse, a Scotsman who performed a series of experiments with electricity in the 1830’s. In one particular experiment, conducted in 1837, Crosse attempted to prove the existence of spontaneous generation. Potassium carbonate and pulverized flint, dissolved in sulphuric acid, were allowed to drip through a piece of porous iron oxide taken from Mount Vesuvius which was electrified by a Volta battery. After two weeks white nipples began to grow on the stone, which later enlarged, struck out filaments and on the twenty-sixth day assumed the form of perfect insects. A paper was presented to the London Electrical Society; even Michael Faraday attempted to repeat this experiment, but to no avail!)
With this experiment as a starting point, The World and Its Inhabitants was first conceived as a miniature circus, a salon divertissement. It was always intended as a very intimate, ritualistic form of 18th century parlor activity -- an elaborate meal was prepared for perhaps seven guests, with small, electrically operated characters presented between courses.
This miniature Oracle has become a process of cataloging personalities. The genesis of an idealized world where history has been taken from its source and re-presented in three minutes of singular action.
Extravagantly bedecked in a scarlet jacket, the Ringmaster (the artist) removes the right riding boot and replaces it with a lead shoe; in the left hand an enameled stave is carefully positioned upon the positive post of a set of batteries. The current flows freely through the body from the left hand to the right foot. The flow of electricity then passed from the lead-clad foot, sensitizing the Copper Governor, which begins to glide to and fro across an arc of lead.
At a desired moment in the performance the movement is transfixed by a specially prepared Flagellator and the character of choice performs its life in three minutes of unrestrained splendor, using the Ringmaster's body as a conductor. The Characters, some forty eight to date, are entertainers, explorers, musicians, scientists, but also phenomena, objects of affection, mythological and famous animals taken from 300 years of history.
The work is quite elaborate; further reading is advisable. The World and Its Inhabitants published by Bookworks London (see books) A forthcoming publication: The Complete Compendium of the World and its Inhabitants is presently being prepared for publication.