On/Off states

Artist Name(s) Elaine Reynolds
Artwork title On/Off states
Context/Background On/Off states 2010 is a live event that addresses the questionable futures of so-called 'Ghost Estates' endemic in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. There is a focus on the countless un-finished, un-inhabited houses in rural regions of the north-west. The profusion of such sites can be understood as a legacy of the Section 23 Rural Renewal (tax relief) scheme - a government incentive that supported the ‘invigoration’ of selected rural zones.


On/Off states took place on an incomplete and apparently abandoned construction site that now dominates a small, rural Leitrim village. One house, in the very early stages of construction, was utilised specifically as an example of a structure, considered under the current NAMA categorisations, as ‘not viable to completion.’  Lights were installed within the concrete shell of this house. These lights were electronically programmed on and off in a sequence that signifies the S.O.S pattern in Morse code.

This gesture relies on the use of opposing On/Off states or binary opposites that form the basis of many familiar coding systems. The intervention took place from dusk to darkness on one night only and was visible to neighbouring houses and passers–by. Ordinarily, light from within a house indicates that someone is home. For the duration of measured illuminations we can yield to the illusion that this structure, without doors, windows, tiles on the roof and certainly without inhabitants, has potential as a home. In contrast to such musings, the flashing lights actually spell out an urgent call for help. It was significant that action was automated rather than a manual intervention, therefore the S.O.S can be perceived as coming from the house itself. 


Elaine Reynolds graduated from NCAD, Fine Art (Sculpture) in 2007. She has participated in various exhibitions, residencies and projects - frequently in rural contexts, both in Ireland and abroad. Recent undertakings include Holding Together Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, the Advanced Course in Visual Art with visting professor Hans Haake, F.A.R, Como, Italy and Scoping Worlds at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre. 

Commission Type Other
Commissioner Name Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Manorhamilton
Commissioning process Commissioned under the Leitrim Sculpture Centre artist-in-residence progamme
Project commission dates May 31, 2010 - September 30, 2010
Public Presentation dates September 24, 2010 - September 24, 2010
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By The Arts Council,Other
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Project commission start date 31/05/2010
Project commission end date 30/09/2010
County Leitrim
Content contributor(s) Elaine Reynolds
Relationship to project Artist 
Public engagement

The live event was clearly visible to neighbours within the surrounding radius, motorists and passers-by. Documentation of On/Off states was exhibited in Scoping Worlds at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, October 2010. The video element will be screened as part of NAMARAMA, The Market Studios, 20 January 2011.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Conor Mac Namee – electrical engineer
Brendan Mac Namee – electrical engineer
Patrick Reynolds (snr) – technical assistant
Patrick Reynolds (jnr) – technical assistant
Liam Trappe – photographer



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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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