Rule of Three


Becoming an Image

by Cassils
Performance art, photography, sculpture

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A 200-pound block of clay is placed in the centre of a pitch-black room. An audience stands by as Cassils pummels and pounds the firm material, striking it with hands and feet. Only the sporadic flashing of cameras allows a glimpse into the action, each snapshot revealing one step in a gradual transformation. As the clay is slowly moulded, dented by the force of clenched fists, the artist’s toil also becomes apparent. In viewing these still photographs, we imagine the sound of landed punches and kicks, the grunts of exertion. The salt of sweat lingers in the air. To sense physicality, we realise, requires neither motion nor tactile presence.

Words by John Wadsworth

The Secret of Kells

directed by Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey
Feature film

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A young boy floats through darkness, as a beast slithers around him with ill intent, fangs snapping. He has no sword or shield for protection; this creature must be defeated with chalk alone. An attack can be staved off by a hastily drawn wall, a single slash holding a strong defence. Victory can be won only by penning his foe in with a curving sweep, a circular cage within which it is left to devour itself. The encounter is one of many on Brendan’s quest to find the Book of Kells, a fabled manuscript famed for its sublime beauty. He acts in defiance of his uncle, who forbids him from leaving the abbey, anxious about the impending Viking invasion.

Words by John Wadsworth

De Volharding Building

designed by Jan Buijs and Joan B. Lürsen

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In the late twenties, The Hague’s Grote Marktstraat was lit up by the De Volharding Building. The edifice resembled a roughly cut opal, the glass crust lending its light a pearly hue. The structure’s smooth, colourless walls encased blocks of sans-serif text, advertising the socialist cooperative contained within the crepuscular cluster. Almost a century later, it remains standing as an asymmetric stack of box-shapes: tumbling, tarnished Tupperware. Its night-time glow has been reined in, but its golden age is remembered through a handful of shimmering photographs.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

More to discover

Becoming an Image: Visit the website for Becoming an Image here. Watch a video introduction to the artwork here. Nell Frizzell has written article about Cassils for The Guardian.

The Secret of Kells: Watch the trailer here. Listen to 'Aisling's Song' here. Kristy Puchko has interviewed Tomm Moore for The Film Stage.

De Volharding Building: View a photograph of the De Volharding Building taken in 1930 here, and a photo from 1996 here.

Today's connection

The De Volharding Building is a famous example of ‘architecture of the night’, due to its illumination in the 1920s. Cassils is illuminated by flashes of light in Becoming an Image, while The Secret of Kells includes many depictions of manuscript illuminations.

Question of the day

Which artworks connected to the word 'Illumination' would you recommend? Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Nelken by Pina Bausch was one of the most illuminating artworks I’ve experienced. Symphonic in how it sculpted the audience’s emotions. Absolutely genius. (→)

– Alex Ketley, choreographer and director of The Foundry (via The Brief →)

'Nuttin' Out Jones', a jazz track by Elvin Jones / Jimmy Garrison Sextet, from the album Illumination. (→)

– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief (via Patreon →)

Read more: Animated films