gary perkins

Exhibition open to the public on
Fridays 2-7pm,
Saturdays 9am-noon
18th May - 6th July 2002
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Keppel Street,
London WC1E 7HT


Five Litre Baptism
Gary Perkins
Materials: Urinal cistern, submersible video camera, transmitter, receiver, 12" monitor

In 2001 Gary Perkins installed a commissioned artwork involving a complex series of miniature video cameras that run through 4 floors of the Keppel Street building. Using cables that run along side those of the buildings electrical systems the work took us to hidden ducts and floor spaces that link departments and offices. In another new site specific work for the school it is the plumbing that supplies the necessary support for a small scale drama that will remind us of our complicated relationships with water, including its cleansing and life giving properties.

Situated in the main ground floor gents toilets, the continually flushing cisterns of the men’s urinals house an otherwise unseen internal space that floods and empties in a small scale natural disaster. Every few minutes the water level rises in a torrent that, seen through the lens of a submerged video camera, creates images of newsreel and biblical proportions. Seen on a monitor some distance from the privacy of the Gents toilets, a tableau involving a trapped and sinking vehicle threatening to be swept away by a huge weight of water is repeatedly viewed, each time different and each time a little more suffocating.

The video images that characterise Gary Perkins’ work are always live and unrecorded, and are often familiar; borrowing from sources as far reaching as Hollywood disaster movies to caught on camera amateur footage. Not surprisingly then, that, from a growing interest in reality TV, this work reflects the invasive camera position popularised by images from news reports, CCTV operator: black and white (almost still) scenes of corridors and fire exits and more recently the jerky web cam and video files downloaded from the internet.

Gary Perkins work was included in ‘New Contemporaries 1996’ and ‘Material Culture’ at the Hayward Gallery.

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