Gallery Plan

List of Works

Enterprise of Notations, 2013

  • 116mm film loop, projector, metal spheres

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

Enterprise of Notations belongs to Barba’s series of projector-sculptures which are influenced by Structuralist filmmaking of 1960s and 70s and its focus on the material elements of film (such as the filmstrip, projector and screen).

In this work, we follow the looping of a strip of clear film leader that has been perforated at regular intervals by a hole punch like line notations on a punchcard. A precursor to digital storage, punchcards stored information in the physical alteration of its shape. The roll of leader runs through a 16mm projector, across a horizontal bar balancing three metal spheres, and up through conveyor rollers affixed to the gallery wall, before looping back and repeating in an endless cycle. The small metal spheres intercept the beam of light to appear as silhouettes on the projection wall. The work’s absence of a projected image focuses our attention on the materiality and the distinct yet interdependent components of film projection.

Drawn by the Pulse, 2018

  • 35mm film sculpture, silent
  • 3:08 mins

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

In Drawn by the Pulse Barba pays tribute to American astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868–1921). Leavitt was a member of the ‘Harvard computers’, an all-female team tasked with analysing thousands of glass-plate photographs in the collection of the Harvard College Observatory, Massachusetts. Studying images of the Magellanic Clouds, the neighbour-galaxies of the Milky Way, Leavitt discovered a rule for measuring stellar distances based on the rhythmic brightening and dimming (or ‘flicker’) of pulsing variable stars. Leavitt’s discovery allowed later astronomers to confirm the existence of galaxies far beyond the boundaries of the known universe.

Filmed at the Harvard College Observatory, Drawn by the Pulse features photographic plates marked with Leavitt’s annotations. Barba was intrigued by how stars, like projectors, emanate beams of light, and how Leavitt worked like a filmmaker, editing together individual photos just like frames of a film. Presented as an installation using a modified projector fitted with a lightbox, Drawn by the Pulse draws attention to the fleeting frames looping across its surface, image followed by image.

Somnium, 2011

  • 16mm film transferred to video, colour, sound
  • 19:20 mins

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

Somnium draws on German astronomer Johannes Kepler’s 17th century story of lunar travel. A mixture of astronomy and fiction, Kepler’s speculative text imagines Earth as seen from the surface of the moon, cast into the form of a dream. Kepler based his description on a heliocentric model of the universe, with the planets orbiting the sun rather than earth and hence providing a new view of earth and its movements. Following in the science-fiction tone of this story and adopting Kepler’s title in tribute, Somnium presents a shifting and uncertain tale of environmental change as observed by the inhabitants of a mysterious planet.

Somnium was filmed in Maasvlakte 2, the Port of Rotterdam’s large-scale coastal reclamation project, and depicts a snowy landscape marked by the incessant activity of industrial production, extraction and circulation. The film’s narration is informed by a combination of fictional and documentary sources including interviews Barba conducted with local residents about the future of the site. Through an enigmatic soundscape, alternating voiceovers, and mix of documentary and archival footage, Somnium evokes a distorted vision of a planet in flux: a place of desertification and rising sea levels where the remaining population, represented by a beekeeper, live gripped by fear of the construction transforming the landscape.

The Color Out of Space, 2015

  • 5 coloured glass filters, steel base, HD video, colour, sound
  • 36:00 mins
  • Voices collaged by composer Jan St Werner from interviews, fictions and readings by artists and astronomers from around the world, including Ingrid Wiener, Georgia Horn, Emma Hedditch, Barbara Hammer, Laetitia Sadier, Evan Calder Williams, Jimmy Robert, Jean-Pierre Luminet, Colin Attwood, Daphne Beal, Heidi Newberg, Matthew Newby and Oswald Wiener.

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

The Color Out of Space was developed by Barba in collaboration with the Hirsch Observatory in Troy, New York. Working with video, Barba combined and digitally edited photos taken from the Observatory with images of swirling nebula, planets, comets and moons captured by NASA’s more powerful space telescopes to create a moving image work.

On the soundtrack, scientists, artists and writers can be heard reflecting on the mysteries of the universe in a fragmentary collage of interviews, field recordings and readings. One voiceover explains the importance of coloured glass filters in the imaging of stars unperceivable by the eye through earth-based telescopes. Another reads a passage from horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space (1927), a tale of ecological collapse triggered by an indescribable colour fallen to earth inside a meteorite. At times indistinguishable from one another, these interlocking narratives – from the scientific to the highly fictionalised – put the present in contact with times and dimensions beyond the scope of human perception.

Language Infinity Sphere (Recording), 2018

  • linoleum print ink on canvas
  • 206 x 156cm

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

To make this work, Barba inked and rolled Language Infinity Sphere – a heavy sphere covered in old letterpress blocks, presented elsewhere in this exhibition – onto canvas. Viewed from a distance, this printed record resembles a cratered landscape or a cluster of stars. On closer look, the image is comprised of layers of printed letters and punctuation in various typefaces and sizes. There are no discernible words. The letters overlap and mingle in a pattern of looped or circular motion, the cluster of type seeming to literally have no beginning or end.

Aggregate States of Matters, 2011

  • 35mm film, colour, optical sound
  • 21:14 mins

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

Aggregate States of Matters centres on the Andes, Peru, where rapidly receding glaciers are changing the landscape at unprecedented rates. Barba shot the film over several trips in a period of almost two years during which she met with local climate scientists, hydrologists and rural Quechuan communities affected by rapid glacial retreat. Their conversations, translated and transcribed as intertitles, convey the multidimensional impacts of glacier melt on communities in and around the Andes. An unearthly, abstract soundtrack accentuates the dissonant noises created by cracking ice, thumping pipage and other ambient elements.

Barba was invited by a Quechua-speaking community to film the preparation of a ceremony during the annual Qoyllur rit’i (Snow Star) festival in the southern Andes. Key aspects of the festival, once undertaken on ice, now take place on rocky mountain slopes, their exposed peaks stark reminders of fragility in an age of precarious climate. Presented alongside Somnium (2011), Aggregate States of Matters invites us to reflect on how distant parts of the world are connected in a wider, ongoing exchange and motion.

Language Infinity Sphere, 2018

  • lead letters on steel
  • ⌀ 46cm

Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin | Paris | Seoul and Vistamare, Milan | Pescara

Language Infinity Sphere is one of a series of works made using old letterpress blocks salvaged by Barba from an Italian printing house. Once used in the oldest of all printing processes, the function of these letters has long been superseded by new technologies and techniques of printing and circulating texts. In Language Infinity Sphere, these relics of another time are reconfigured into a new spherical form, presenting us with a vision of a barren, rocky moonscape.

The letterings’ arrangement around the sphere observes no alphabetical or linguistic order. When inked and rolled on a surface, the sphere produces an abstract print of indecipherable text. Far from the linear conventions of a traditional printer, Language Infinity Sphere involves viewers in a process of reading letters that will not settle into words.