The Difference Room
David Cunningham - Notes on a proposed installation for a 9x9 metre
module in the Tate 1979 extension, 6 September 2002.

Construct a ceiling on the space and use an air conditioning unit to
heat the room to around 35/40C - must be noticeably hot but not
ridiculous - try to avoid stuffiness or high humidity. All surfaces
should be white and if possible shiny. Lighting should be bright but
diffused. Entrance to the space should be as simple as possible, best
not blocked off, exactly how to manage this needs to be researched,
as does the precise means of venting the room from the air
conditioning unit.

An air conditioning system operates on a system of feedback, so this
is the possible beginning of an extension of my continuing
investigation of feedback systems into areas outside the purely aural
- into other conditions which are our environment, our existence. In
common with my earlier work The Listening Room this work takes a
component of the space or a component of the environment and
amplifies it.

Besides the electro-mechanical thermostat feedback control, another
level of feedback within the work is conceptual - there is no
metaphor within the work - still this will inevitably be imposed by
those who experience the work. The work itself is wide open to
viewer speculation of all kinds - some probably contradictory.
But there is no metaphor, in some ways the work is an act against
metaphor. In that sense also it is consistent with my earlier work.

Many years ago my work put forward conditions which moderated a space
- smell, sound or other factors moderating a space. One of the few
documentations of this work appears in Hayley Newman's 'Connotations'
p58-9 (Matts Gallery 2001), - the fictional work presented as 'Bass
in a Space' is based on an actual installation made sometime around

With the (at time of writing, untitled) hot room, temperature is
introduced into this canon of conditions - notoriously difficult to
control although fairly simplistic in principle.

This is a work for this specific location, an institution where
temperature and other situational and environmental factors are
rigorously controlled.

At some point after the correspondence on this idea was titled The Difference Room. I actually did a lot of research into air conditioning and ventilation systems and consulted with Andrew Wilson about the history of these media in art. So Andrew mentions it in the catalogue essay:

Sixteen was written for students on the Time Based BA at Maidstone
(hence the filmic bias) sometime in the 1990s and was originally
called The Emergency Projects. The plan was that a student would be
dragged out of a lecture, presented with this list and told to come
back with some work in 3 days. I hoped this might counteract a
tendency in the course for people to spend months making dreadful
epics. They never let me do it but Al Rees has used it at RCA so
it's not 100% unrealised. I've done numbers 4, 10, 13 and 16 prior
to writing the list although the end-products (such as they are) have
no reference to these instructions.

1. make a film about nothing.

2. make a work to be performed in four days time involving a bucket of water and a clock.

3. make a work which uses the letter W in fifteen different ways.

4. do something backwards.

5. make a work based entirely on the last book you read.

6. perform 12 meaningless actions.

7. within the work use two languages that you do not understand.

8. make a film involving at least 10 people who are not aware of the camera.

9. make a film where the camera is in constant motion whilst remaining in one small room.

10. make a work which involves 2 tins of red paint.

11. make a film where the focus of attention is on the background.

12. make a work based on today's newspaper.

13. go for a long walk somewhere you've never been before, document.

14. the title of the work is 'Hotel Room in Falkirk', all characters are mythological.

15. make a work based entirely on the existence of six bicycles.

16. make a film where all parts of the screen image are given the same value.