ANATOMY OF THE CIRCLE 2002 (Video Still)

4-channel video installation

The animations show instances of the theoretical components of the idea of ‘roundness’ - dimensions one through four.

The first screen represents one-dimensionality. The radar screen demonstrates how the one-dimensional form of a line, as it moves in a specific way over time, describes a circle. The full circle is never present at any one time. But through persistence of vision, we perceive a complete circle.

The second screen uses a homage to Rothko to exemplify the circle in its two-dimensionality. Here, instead of a rectangle, a circular surface is divided into colour fields. The colours of the background and two sections are determined by projecting the height of the section onto the colour-wheel.

The third screen shows the Berlin Television Tower, the ball of the rotating restaurant representing the circle in its three-dimensional form. Each frame is, of course, only a two-dimensional representation of this sphere. But again, through taking many pictures from different perspectives and animating them, our perception automatically recreates for us the three-dimensional object.

The fourth dimension is more difficult. Mathematicians may be comfortable working in four-dimensional geometries, but because of our nature as prisoners in a three-dimensional world moving in a specific direction in time, no one can directly perceive a four-dimensional object. Imagination is therefore necessary. Just as a three-dimensional object casts a two-dimensional shadow, it is theoretically possible to create a three-dimensional object which can be interpreted as the ‘shadow’ of a four-dimensional object. This is a 2D animation created using circles and ‘holes’ which leave a trail as they change size over time.

Tim Coe