Ellie Ga, 2013-2014

Measuring the Circle

Measuring the Circle is based on Ellie Ga’s fascination with the Pharos Lighthouse, whose sunken granite remains lie in the harbor of Alexandria in Egypt. In 2012, Ga spent six months studying at Alexandria University’s Department of Marine Archaeology. The video follows Ga’s signature style of an immersive, braided narrative that brings the viewer on a fascinating journey weaving the history, mathematics, aesthetics and politics surrounding the ancient wonder.

Throughout the video, the left-hand screen displays an archive of Lighthouse interpretations. Gathered in Alexandria, this archive includes dive footage, lighthouse iconography, interviews, and scientific publications. The silhouette of a hand layers transparent images onto a lightbox in a rhythmic pattern of accumulation and dispersion. The right-hand screen makes use of the Ostomachion, a square divided into 14 pieces, which was invented by Archimedes, whose science and geometry are instrumental for the Lighthouse’s creation myth. A hand laboriously tries to piece together fragments of images. The geometric pattern of the Ostomachion, with its close ties to Islamic art which succeeds it, is a reminder of the region’s history of cross-cultural pollination of ideas and recycling of forms that, for Ga, the Lighthouse of Alexandria is emblematic of.

Despite its attempt to deconstruct the Lighthouse, Measuring the Circle results in a palimpsest, a process that preserves what it sets out to destroy. The impossibility of objective recreation leads to the emergence of a personal representation. Similarly, the video demonstrates how memories are continually fragmented and realigned, a unique metamorphosis which makes it impossible to disentangle the encounter from the evidence.

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Measuring the Circle
Ellie Ga
1 channel split-screen video, color video, stereo audio
1920px x 1080px, 21'55"