60,000 Characters by Simon Mckeown © 2020 – www.simon-mckeown.com
60,000 Characters is a commemoration of the ‘excess’ lives lost due to COVID. The UK Governments Office of National Statistics reports that 60,000 excess deaths have occurred during the pandemic to date. and other reports highlight how the disabled, older people and those at high-risk have been particularly badly affected by the virus and societal reaction to it.
The work is intended as an installation in a gallery space. In the centre of the room hangs a vegetable food box (3D scan or real). It is the same as sent to all those across the UK who were asked to shield and found it difficult to get food delivered. Inside there is a wide array of food, including soups, rice, pasta, bread and apples. It represents the epitome of care.
On the wall nearby, 60,000-word characters are projected one at a time onto the surface at high speed. On the adjacent wall, a projector presents an overall character count (0-60,000). The characters are derived from the documentation sent to Simon McKeown from the UK Government, as sent to those shielding. He also uses other documents including NHS letters and for instance, the ingredients of the objects in the food parcel.
In the space, a voice-over artist reads out Government letters which are COVID related instructions and explanations sent to those shielding and these words reflect the stress and concern of the time, coincident with the time the work was conceived when hundreds of people were dying each week. These voices will mix with other voices which read out the contents of the food parcel and ingredients. The audience will also here transcribed recorded phone calls from Government agencies who called McKeown as a shielding person, offering help and assistance, which will be re-voiced and overlaid with ringing tones.
A full loop of all this work will take approximately take 10-15 minutes – and will culminate on both walls at the same time with the words.
In Memory of 60,000 Characters.
Gallery Note: The installation will be available for use in December 2020, please email info (at) simon-mckeown.com for more detail.
Image 1 Title - 60,000 Characters Installation previs
Image 1 Description – The image is mostly white, showing 2 white walls and floor in a gallery space. In the centre of the space, hanging from the ceiling, we see a brown carboard food box with milk cartons, tins of food, bags of rice and other food items. The left and right wall display the text ‘In Memory of 60,000 Characters’.
Image 2 Title – 60,000 Characters Installation previs
Image Description - The image is mostly white, showing 2 white walls and floor in a gallery space. In the centre of the space, hanging from the ceiling, we see a brown carboard food box with milk cartons, tins of food, bags of rice and other food items. The left wall displays the character Q and the right wall the number 1346.
Image 3 Title – 60,000 3D scan work in progress
Image 3 Description – A colour image which shows a 3D scan of the inside of box full of food with milk cartons, tins of food, bags of rice and other food items.
Image 4 Title – 60,000 3D scan work in progress
Image 4 Description – A grayscale image which shows a 3D scan of the inside of box full of food with milk cartons, tins of food, bags of rice and other food items.
Simon McKeown – Artist
Andrew Breckhill – Technical Artist
Nigel Crooks – Sound Technician
Voice over artists