Anthony McCall: Line Describing a Cone

A presentation of the ground-breaking work from 1973

Anthony McCall's Line Describing a Cone tests the boundaries between cinema and sculpture. The work takes the form of a projected white dot that slowly grows to fill the dark space with a cone of light, immersing audience members in its field, to mesmerising effect.


Anthony McCall:

‘Line Describing a Cone’ is thirty minutes long. It is a sixteen millimetre film. It is projected on a film projector.

We have the projector at one end of the space. What happens at the beginning is there is a pencil of light that runs through space from the projector to the wall. The image on the wall at that point is just a dot with white lines.

That dot on the wall gradually traces a circle leaving a trail behind it. It traces it very, very slowly. It takes half an hour to define an entire circle and in the end you have a complete hollow cone of light in space. This has a certain drama to it as it completes its circle as it turns around and of course there are no surprises: everyone can see where it is going and then they kind of begin to quite eagerly wait for it to complete itself.

You can watch it however you want but I would recommend perhaps try standing with your back to the image and looking towards the projector and see what you see and go from there. It has to be large enough to be capable of incorporating its spectators. The star auditorium is an auditorium - it’s a traditional film viewing space. It does rather throw into relief what a film viewing situation is usually like, so there will be a certain improvised spirit and I would say that the performative aspect of tonight’s showing will be rather unique.

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