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What inspired True Wholes?

True Wholes is very much inspired by my being an artist and a film archivist.  My visual arts practice is situated in the field of time-based art. The essential element of my work is the passage and manipulation of time through the expressive use of moving image technology and the human body. As an archivist, I am specialising in the preservation of moving image and sound material. To preserve these works I have to deeply and thoroughly understand the essence of what a capturing or playback device can do or, in the words of Laurie Spiegel, pioneer of experimental sound inventions ‘risk failing to perceive its real strengths and characters’.

True Wholes is inspired by the making of previous works which saw me repeatedly returning to the same spot at the same time to capture observations of natural phenomena of light on video.  Production of these works involved precise studies of planetary and weather conditions and the construction of a film set that allowed for repetitive capture. When presenting these works it became clear that the essential element of my work was the forgone experimentation, the film set and the desire to synchronise machine, operator and audience.  The notion that this synchronisation is the instrument of sound and vision is key to the making of True Wholes.

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What is True Wholes?

True Wholes is expanded cinema. It is a multimedia performance in an immersive environment that pushes the boundaries of cinema by challenging the traditional one-way relationship between the audience and the screen. Cinema is awake while being operated on! True Wholes is science of colour, and science fiction. Experience a voyage to the new world. Bear witness to planetary alignment and the collision of stars, lunar cycles and solar activities all birthed from the fusion of analogue and digital technology. The whirring motors painting a sonic vision of the intergalactic dimension. 

On entering the space the audience will observe an operating table. The set up contains analogue and digital moving image capture and projection devices, including a nautilus shutter that was once part of a carbon light projector from the early cinema period, custom made rotating devices, specialised lenses, a super-8mm projector, a slide projector and custom rigs for camera equipment and nano-lighting devices. The operating table is situated in front of the screen. 

A metronome sounds and when the audience is seated the performers will enter the space. Structured as 5 acts in 10 scenes, the audience will witness a live experiment that sees the performers using the equipment to set-up 10 configurations on the operating table in order to create cosmic scenes live on screen. Video feedback, synchronised rear and front projection, and layering are the main techniques used to create an image live on screen. Blueprints are used for each act to carefully place each device before calibrating it to aid the precision required for each scene. 

The reflexive soundscape is created live using contact microphones placed on the machines capturing the sound of motors, fans, cogwheels, and merging them live into noise art through techniques such as layering, looping, delaying, equalising and signal feedback. 

Throughout the 90 minute show, both the audience and performers form part of the live image while the projection screen is increasingly presented as an extension of the room itself. In the final act, the space between the audience and the screen is erased and the viewer, the operators and the machines become synchronized into a continuous loop.

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How was True Wholes developed? 

Work on True Wholes began in 2016 in my living room. That same year short prototypes of individual scenes were tested with selected audiences to gain a deeper understanding of space and perception. Realising the potential of the mechanism to be developed into a performance that consists of live sound and vision I applied to The Arts Council’s Visual Arts bursary and was kindly supported by the scheme to realise True Wholes as a 90-minute performance. Subsequently from late 2017 to early 2019 True Wholes was developed by collaborating with filmmaker Dean Kavanagh, sound artist Oli Ryan and product designer Leo Kennedy as well as receiving special support from Michael Higgins of Crossguns studio.


Who worked on True Wholes?

​Anja Mahler is a visual artist and archivist by trade. She is the creative lead and inventor of True Wholes.


Dean Kavanagh is an experimental filmmaker and digital image technician by trade. His inventiveness and vast experience of imaging techniques have influenced the creation and execution of visuals and sound.







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Oli Ryan is a sound artist who studies sculpture and expanded practice at NCAD. His experience in experimental music as well as working with electronic and electro-acoustic homemade sound sources and instruments has transported True Wholes into a live soundscape.


​Leo Kennedy is a product designer by trade and the director of Shape Shop. His ingenious engineering abilities and experience with CNC machining and laser cutting ensured a bespoke solution to every aspect of the True Wholes functionality.




what devices were used for true wholes?



contact mic






nano lights



how were there put in action?



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