Young Belgian Painters Award 2011 (Tom Nys)
A seemingly endless repetition, that’s what the track “One Beat” sounds like. As the title suggests, it is a single electronic beat, stuck in what is known as a ‘locked groove’ on a 7-inch vinyl gramophone record. Issued by Pieterjan Ginckels, it was an essential building block of the “1000 Beats” project.
A locked groove has no end: the needle of the record player is trapped in a circular groove so that the piece of music plays over and over again—endlessly, or at least until the player is switched off. When it came to producing that one beat, Ginckels turned to Cristian Vogel, a noted artist in the techno genre who has raised functional repetitiveness to an art form and employs electronics and software to revive the age-old principle of trance-inducing rhythms. The single’s highly effective sleeve was designed by Magnus Voll Mathiassen, a well-known Norwegian designer who at the time was working for the Grandpeople collective.
Cooperation and admiration are in fact key concepts in the artist’s oeuvre; Ginckels likes to involve his idols, his friends and the public. The work “1000 Beats” was an installation of pick-ups supplied by friends, acquaintances and visitors. “One Beat” was played simultaneously on the installation, resulting in what was more a sonorous drone than a pure boemph: a low-sounding, space-filling, hypnotizing and persistent hum. Those who lent their gramophone-player to the project were given a copy of “One Beat”. And like every musical production worth its salt, after the first show at the Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, the installation went on tour to such places as Brussels and Milan.
Immediately after that Ginckels came up with “PISTE”. Though the theme is completely different, the installation had much in common with “1000 Beats”. “PISTE” was an impressive wooden velodrome on which Ginckels and selected friends did laps. At Netwerk / center for contemporary art in Aalst he organized a six-day event, during which the team established its very own world quarter hour record, Ginckels completed exactly a thousand laps, and the team of riders supplied live visuals for a band performing in the adjoining space. At the same time a training camp installation was organized and used in Amsterdam, which resulted in the “Ventoplex Boys” video.
Again various forms of culture and entertainment - in this case even sport - were brought together and many different layers of meaning created. The multiform character of the installation was reinforced by adding a large number of smaller elements to the basic idea, thereby reflecting Ginckels’ eye for detail. In the case of “PISTE” the artist also designed his own “Aerospook” bicycle wheels, uniforms, the “Human Disco Ball” cyclists’ helmets set with fragments of mirror so that the team of cyclists also created a disco effect, a fake wind tunnel to test athletic ability and even “Jupiler 360” beer for the spectators.
The heightened circular and repetitive aspect - both physical and auditive - made “PISTE” a generator for scores of images and metaphors. The sound of the bicycles on the wooden track hummed continuously in a culminating rhythm of sporting achievement and music—like a seemingly endless repetition.