Stops and Drops

David Cheeseman

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 22, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Penthouse
format: in absence

abstract about the author(s)


I propose a multimedia, sculptural installation entitled Stops and Drops. This work has already been exhibited in a different format for solo exhibition, Slime Mould Logic, at Tintype Gallery, London. This incarnation would involve a three channel video projection alongside three oak, glass, and stainless steel chain “assemblages.” The work takes its starting point from Duchamp’s Three Standard Stoppages of 1913, a seminal piece that he described as an experiment: “to imprison and preserve forms obtained through chance, through my chance. At the same time, the unit of length, one meter, was changed from a straight line to a curved line without actually losing its identity (as) the meter, and yet casting a pataphysical doubt on the concept of a straight edge as being the shortest route from one point to another.”

My work appropriates this strategy as a Deleuzian “active/reactive force” through the “extension” of the one-metre thread into a one-hundred-metre steel ball chain that is dropped from the highest available point in a given space. A slow-motion film of each drop is recorded and projected alongside the uniquely emergent sculptural form. The resulting “event” defies immediate understanding as the chain appears to jump from the vessel and defy gravity. The “body” of this material exists as a form in two repeating parts—the pin and the ball—and the “becoming” of this “ejaculatory event” is the result of the internal physical dynamics of their interaction. The “vitalism” that this effect suggests could in a literal sense be seen to be indicative of the “molar line,” the “molecular line,” and the “line of flight” that ruptures the other two lines.

In my practice I work predominately with “stuff,” physical materiality is more important to me than image and the work emerges as a playful response to my fascination with process and the methodologies and philosophies of science and magic. Mold Logic was an installation of work that referenced emergent organic and “artificial” algorithmic processes. In these works morphogenetic tendencies are bound to information theory, physics, chemistry, and geometry through a philosophical underpinning that considers process rather than substance to be the fundamental constituent of the world. Slime mould shows outstanding abilities to adapt its protoplasmic network to varying environmental conditions; it can solve tasks of computational geometry, image processing, logics, and arithmetic when data are represented by configurations of attractants and repellents. In the show, slime mould acted as an analogous reference to the most basic (primordial) creative act—non-human “actants” making choices that potentially “express creativity” in their actions. Slime mould is astonishing, as an “actant” it poses questions around the development of our own intelligence and consciousness. I would also suggest it can act as an analogy or perhaps a metaphor for the way “culture” operates more generally. I’ve reflected upon why Deleuze opted for the rhizome over slime mould… but then YouTube wasn’t around to advertise its brilliance.

about the author(s)

David Cheeseman

David Cheeseman is an artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Birmingham City University. He is an interdisciplinary practitioner working with sculpture, installation, and photography as part of the CFAR research group. He has been awarded the Gulbenkian Rome Scholarship in Sculpture and the Henry Moore Fellowship in Sculpture at Coventry University. His research interests are concerned with exploring the relationship between truth and illusion with respect to the materiality and methodologies of science and (stage) magic. He recently completed a residency at the Lydney Park Estate in association with Matts Gallery London and a collaborative installation for “Fig. 2” project at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London.

info & contact


Birmingham City University / Tintype Gallery, London, UK


david.cheeseman [AT]