Time-lapse documentation of the installation of Searchlight II within the John Hansard Gallery exhibition, Monsters of the Id. The 9m chalk model landscape was scanned by Robert Jeffries and his colleagues from inition to create a virtual landscape that would then be populated by the artificially intelligent game-engine characters and form the basis of four networked installations.

The series of four works works were bound together through an interest in dislocation and paranoia. The visual vocabularies being employed are extrapolations of existing commonplace convention, referencing cinematic, literary, simulation and gaming constructs. By subverting the context, Cotterrell seeks to create an environment that challenges our belief in the understanding of documentary, and the ‘truth’ of film and photographic images.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors are immersed in a landscape that crosses the physical and the virtual. The disquieting Observer Effect presents viewers with a projected image of a distant, self-absorbed population. As audiences remain within the space, this virtual community grows in number and becomes distracted by their presence.

Searchlight 2 reveals illusory human shadows traversing a low platform terrain, suggestive of the desert landscape as seen by an aerial drone. The unnerving movements of this unidentified population are computer-generated and directly mirror the actions seen in Observer Effect. Working with creative 3D technology specialists Inition, David captured the desert scene using the latest 3D scanning technology

Apparent Horizon renders immersive, virtualised vistas of a desert landscape. As viewers, our role hovers between sublime reverie and the quiet anxiety between of periods of violence. The exhibition ends with a final cinematic flourish, enabling visitors to consider their role in the exhibition and its dialogue of control, observation truth and contradiction.

Monsters of the Id is a John Hansard Gallery exhibition co-curated with Helen Sloan, SCAN, and is accompanied by a new, fully illustrated publication. The development of the exhibition has been supported through residencies with the Joint Forces Medical Group in Helmand province and civilian agencies in the northern provinces of Afghanistan enabled by Wellcome Trust and the RSA, and supported by a Philip Leverhulme Prize for research, Danielle Arnaud, Sheffield Hallam University, and Arts Council England.

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