Steve McQueen
Drumroll, 1998

McQueen made Drumroll with a camera apparatus he invented in San Francisco but manufactured in New York: an open-ended barrel, like those used as road barriers at construction sites, fitted with three cameras. Two cameras pointing outward from the center of the barrel recorded imagery of the landscape beyond its rim on either end, while the third camera focused through the barrel’s round side portal. The cameras recorded the barrel’s progress as the artist rolled it through the streets of Manhattan for 28 minutes.

The resulting room-size triptych re-creates the sensory experience of being inside an oil drum barreling through the urban landscape. The video projections simultaneously offer us three different perspectives on this encounter. Two rectangular projections flank a circular central image that repeats, like a scroll, views of the artist, the pavement, and the sky, over and over again in revolution. The continuous rotational rhythm guides the structure of the video, propelling the narrative of an improvisational journey composed of chance elements.

As in his other work from this period, McQueen features himself, both through partial views of his body as he spins the apparatus and by his audible apologies (“Excuse me” or “Watch out!”) to passersby. Though the cameras are freed from the filmmaker’s hands, the recorded imagery is still contingent on his bodily contact with the device.

McQueen was awarded Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize in 1999 for Drumroll.

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Artist name
Steve McQueen
Date created
video installation
three-channel video installation, color, with sound, 22:04 min.
144 in. × 432 in. (365.76 cm × 1097.28 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Steve McQueen
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

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