In the 1970s, McCall, who lives in New York, made a series of "solid light" films that laid the foundations for a new "geometrical cinema", and brought into being a form of experimental creativity that drew both on the art world and on cinematography. Line Describing a Cone, 1973, summed up his investigations. With this initial "solid film", which applied a principle of economy of means, he asserted the identity of the cinema in its intrinsic component parts, notably the phenomenon of projection itself, favouring a dimension that was both performative and processive (in the sense that the work announced itself such as it was, and was exhibited such as it became).
Unlike the first "solid films", McCall's recent installations have not used simple geometrical forms, but combinations of lines and sinusoidal, oscillating curves.
These films, with their complex, irregular forms, imply a different process of visualisation from that of Line Describing a Cone, and above all as regards a memorisation of that which has happened, and an anticipation of that which is to come. This change in motif has been accompanied by the adoption of a new mode of projection: the first images were traced on the surface of the film itself with a ballpoint pen, a compass and white gouache. But McCall's films have now taken on a technological dimension. He uses CAD software, and has replaced film stock and 16 mm projectors by digital files, computers and video projectors.
These films cannot be reduced to an exegesis of their formal properties: the "sculptures" function as a reaction to the exhibition space. The viewer experiences light, and the experience is a material one: he is invited to touch the beam, to move round it, to pass through it and slide into its centre. For the experience to be total, it has to be both external and internal.
Exhibition: Between You And I, and other "solid light" films
On the invitation of the Institut d'Art Contemporain, and for the first time, Anthony McCall is presenting three films at the same time, and in this way is developing a particular perspective on the very concept of an exhibition.
Doubling Back, 2003, Turning Under, 2004, and You and I, Horizontal, 2005, revisit works produced in the 1970s, featuring real time and space, and projections in an evanescent mist, in twenty- to thirty-minute cycles.
In what is less a traditional sequential mode than a principle of distribution, McCall places these works in a situation of mutual responsiveness.
The Institut d'Art Contemporain is also showing the one-off monumental installation Between You and I, 2006, at an extra-mural venue.