Ilona Gaynor


Acrylic, Chromed Steel, Brass, Ink, Paper, 3D Printed Gypsum, Wood, Flock, Dibond

Commisioned by the Design Museum, London

Installation, Objects

‘We are in an era where the term “simulacrum” seems inadequate to represent the entanglement of representations, re-enactments, and simulations which culture stages, not only as art and entertainment, but also as science.’ (Judy Radul)

Although deconstructive philosophies of the recent past have shifted consideration from a search for truth to a search for the types of meanings produced through discourse itself, the court of law still relies, to a significant degree, on performance to establish both the authority of the court and the veracity of testimony. In the playhouse, as in the courtroom, an event already completed is re-enacted in a sequence which allows its meaning to be searched out. [...] The courtroom is, or should be, a theatrical space, one which evokes expectations of the uncommon.

[...] Theatrical effects are such dominant factors in the physical identification of a courtroom that their absence may raise doubts about whether a court which lacks a properly theatrical aspect is really a court at all.Milner S. Ball, Caldwell Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Georgia A contemporary court of law is a literal demonstration of legal-theatre. It is often spatially laid out with strict rules and acute awareness of sightlines, with participation, and an audience situated in it’s viewing gallery, much like the broadcasting constructs of a television show. Rhetoric is a discipline that is widely used in televisual language and originated in the legal context of persuasion – often called theatrum veritatis et iustitae (the theatre of truth and justice) and was ‘the medium through which the drama of law was played out’.

Architecturally, ‘the court’ has begun to expand its surfaces beyond its four walls, through the integration of cameras, microphones and sound proof sheets of glass, carving the room. In doing so, the choreographic structures of the court are becoming separated and externalised through the medium of video feeds shot from multiple sight lines, artificial viewpoints and mechanical movements. Audiences and jury are becoming separated from the side-lines and placed in viewing areas, similar to cinema screenings.

Working under the advisory of British barristers, the work presents an exemplar legal case. Using the language of film and film-making, the work seeks to explore how legal constructs can be manipulated by a genre based medium, a medium
that through its very nature fails to evade subjectivity, authorship and tone. A trial ‘event’ can be captured and edited, even through rudimentary visual technologies would cease remain objective at the deft hand of a technician and would likely adopt visual and editorial differentials of film genres. Objection!!! attempts to maintain – through alluding to traditional décor, such as parquet flooring, wood panelling, a judges’ bench and chalked depictions – a sense of authority and decorum amidst a new order of technology and information, in attempt to highlight the relationship between the technological and cinematic infrastructure of the courts built environment. This work presents a series of scale models, photographic, graphic material; the kinds frequently used as demonstration material in theatres between director and actors, or between plaintiffs, judge and members of the jury; to highlight the relationship between drama, model, stage and reality, which is something that is constantly negotiated with the viewer.