Simon Starling b. 1967
Wilhelm Noack oHG (2006)
In a milieu of quiet Conceptualism, of thoughtful works in spaces so silent that whispering is par for the course, Simon Starling’s latest show heralds a booming departure. A mind-twisting work titled after its fabricator, Wilhelm Noack oHG, 2006, is both film projector and film projection. That is, the film projector itself is a strange work of art conceived of by Starling and produced by the Noack family firm, while the film is a four-minute history of the machine’s maker and makings. It's dark and loud; the clangs and bangs of industry pierce the room, the bass note simply the mechanic purr of the oversize projector, itself a spiraling staircase, shiny and new (very possibly a machine rendered following a mental rendezvous with László Moholy-Nagy and Jean Tinguely). And though the black-and-white film bears nostalgic overtones, it never becomes maudlin. Here, Starling’s abiding fascination with rebuilding what has already been built reflects a Real that goes beyond the ethereality of a virtual production line. If Fischli & Weiss’s Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), 1987, is a revival of child’s play (two boys left alone with matches), then Starling’s latest production is an adult homage to the aesthetics of the “hard” in a hard-drive technological montage.