To complement the new display of Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991 a sculpture by Cornelia Parker, Tate Online together with BT, has created an interactive multimedia online exploration of the work (www.tate.org.uk/colddarkmatter).
The work was hugely popular with the public when it was shown from May to December 2000 in Between Cinema and a Hard Place, Tate Modern’s opening exhibition. The new display of the work as part of the gallery’s Still Life/Object/Real Life Suite allows visitors to see the work at no cost.
The work began life as an ordinary garden shed. Parker scoured friends’ sheds, attics, car-boot sales, finding typical objects to fill it, and then asked the British Army to blow the whole lot up. She collected the wreckage and reassembled it as a formalised constellation of suspended fragments, frozen as if at the moment of detonation. The smallest elements, such as toy cars and a crushed tin can are nearest the centre. Larger pieces such as shattered planks of wood and a bicycle wheel are at the edges. A single light bulb at the centre of the orbiting debris throws shadows onto the surrounding walls.
According to Parker: ‘Cold dark matter is the material within the universe that we cannot see and we cannot quantify. We know it exists but we can’t measure it. It’s immeasurable, unfathomable’.
Due to the complexity of the work’s composition, it can be difficult to describe. By using a combination of images, audio, video clips and texts the new website helps viewers to understand the work. For example, by using images to highlight details of the work, viewers are encouraged to focus on the work’s composition and to appreciate the different elements. The content of the site is designed to encourage viewers to learn more about the work. A section provides ‘Points of View’, other sections have texts about the artist and her work. A schools section contains activities to encourage pupils to approach the work, and art from different perspectives.
This is the second project in a series that focuses on the work of a contemporary artist in the Tate Collection. The first project launched in November 2001 explored online Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy.
Tate Online, powered by BT Openworld, has grown to be among the most successful museum sites in the world, with visitors from more than 140 countries in 2001. Since BT and BT Openworld became Tate Online’s partners, visitor figures have almost doubled, with May 2002 registering 197,000 unique visitors, the highest figure to date.