'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.
The exhibition 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.
Judges' bench, Film Set (in Chroma Green) (2014)
Plywood, Flocking, Stainless Steel
1:1 Scale, 3000 x 2500mm
A film set constructed as 4 separate peices,
designed to move freely and positioned as needed
to assume a legal triangulation of a court staging.
The surfaces are flocked in Chroma Green to allow
post produced compositing of images, textures,
people, animals or things.
Court Diorama (2014)
Acrylic, Enamal, Brass
Diorama's are frequently used as demonstration material
in theatres between director and actors. Court Diorama is
used to plan the filmic direction of testimony and trial as
a staged, recorded event.
Basic Plot, Case 2194 (2014)
A4 Inkjet Print, Framed
Law like cinema present the council / the audience
with an abtract (in Law) and a synopsis (in Film).
This plot was written as a hybrid, using the
vernacular of both.
Camera Move Sequence (2014)
Giclée print, Framed
A drawing, mapping out the technical composition
of cameras, dolly tracks and people required
for the shooting length of a realtime testimonial
deposition. The drawing details the position of
the audience comparitively to the council, judge
and equipment. The edges of the cameras' vision are
restricted and dictated by the gemoetry of the
courts built environment.
Queen's Coat of Arms, in Neon (2014)
Glass, Neon Gas, Steel
1000 x 1000mm
The Queens coat of arms, sits centrally
in the court on the furthest wall, 2 meters
above the head of the judge and is precisely
1 x 1m in size. Fabricated in Neon; alternative
to Oak or Mahogany, the coat of arms is
repositioned as a material similar to the types
of visual language used in televised quiz shows.
Neon signs designed to sit in the background as
logo device used to immedetly alert TV audiences
to the nature of the content, whilst flicking
The Lawyer (2014)
C-Type Prints on Fuji Crystal
archive paper, Aluminium Mounted
594 x 841mm
Photographic documentation of the lawyer
practising persuasive body language in
preparation for a screen test.
Courtroom Drawings (2014)
Chalk on Sugar Paper, Framed
297 x 420mm
Courtroom: A Film (2014)
(in chronological order)
2003 - Intolerable Cruelty
1997 - Good Will Hunting
2000 - Erin Brokovich
2003 - Legally Blond 2
2014 - Orange is the New Black
1997 - Ally McBeal
2014 - House of Cards
1990 - Goodfellas
1997 - Liar Liar
1999 - Big Daddy
2002 - Catch Me If You Can
1995 - The City of Lost Children
2002 - The Sopranos
1994 - The Shawshank Redemption
2005 - Capote
1993 - Frasier
2012 - Damages
2004 - Lemony Snicket
1990 - Goodfellas
2010 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
2011 - Suits
2014 - Games of Thrones
1989 - Ghostbusters II
2012 - Skyfall
2013 - The Wolf of Wall Street
1993 - Mrs Doubtfire
2012 - The Dark Knight Rises
1995 - Absolutely Fabulous
1997 - The Rainmaker
1991 - JFK
A compilation of scenes from popular cinema
and television that depict the courtroom in
a collectively memorised form of experience,
through a span of genres.
Exhibition View, Design Museum, London
(photography by Luke Hayes)
© Ilona Gaynor 2014
Concept, Design, Direction: Ilona Gaynor
Production Assistant: Steph Bickford Smith
Legal Advisors: Druces LLP, Department of Law - Brown University
3D Modelling: Blair Prietz
Courtroom Sketches: Fatime Szatzi
Graphic Design by / with Craig Sinnamon
VFX Equipment: VFXstore
Photography: Richard Maciver
Actor: Nigel Genis
Film Edit: Steph Bickford Smith
Furniture Construction: Tim Sergent
Flocking Fabrication: Thomas & Vine
Prints Generously Provided by: Metro Print
3D Prints Generously Provided by: iMaker
Neon Signmakers: LoVe Neon
Photographs Shot in UCL's Moot Courtroom
Special Thanks: Finola Gaynor, Shona Kitchen,
UCL Department of Law, Simon Jeal, Craig Sinnamon,
Thomas Thwaites, Klair Bird,Simon Thomas,
Vestalia (LoVe Neon)
Commissioned by: Design Museum, London.