Hard Metal Body was an art work by Alice Channer created for Notting Hill Gate Underground station as part of Art on the Underground’s Central Line Series.
The work was installed along each stretch of wall on either side of the escalators leading to the Central line platforms.
A succession of rough ellipses, varying in size, seems to float above the handrails. These rings are the detailed imprints, reproduced on vinyl, of elastic waistbands from clothing. Moving alongside them up or down the escalators recalls the stop-frame images of a flip book.
Made in response to the Central Line Series’ theme of communication and exchange, as well as to the nature of the site, Hard Metal Body expressed Channer’s desire to inhabit and communicate with the industrial surfaces of the tunnel. She attempted to set up an exchange between her own soft human body and the cold metal surfaces of the tunnel. This was achieved through an indirect reference to her human body in the form of the stretchy clothing that we usually wear close to our skin.
Describing her work as ‘figurative sculpture without the body’, Channer uses a combination of manual, industrial and post-industrial processes both to confuse and define the edges between human and non-human entities. Making the work involves cutting the waistbands from clothing, manually rolling ink over them and then pressing them against paper. The results of this primitive printing method are digitally scanned and manipulated, and then reproduced on vinyl that is installed on the wall. At the end of the process, the details of the imprint are so clear that the flattened down waistbands still evoke the original 3D objects.
Hard Metal Body is a playful continuation of Channer’s interest in pinpointing a new human subjectivity defined by the industrial and post-industrial materials and techniques that constitute our late-capitalist era. She lives and breathes through these plastic processes that shape and form her works, almost as if, as she says, they ‘are authored by many different beings, and only one of these is me’.