This is an archived page from the Website Archive of British artist Ellie Harrison from Version 3.0 (active 2008 - 2015). New website:

last updated
15th July 2015

Fireworks Display is a performance spectacle in which Ellie Harrison attempts to re-enact a chronology of ‘the history of revolution’ over the course of the last 360 years via the medium of pyrotechnics.

Conceived as the sister work to The History of Financial Crises, this performance aims to explore the frequency with which social / political uprisings have occurred across the modern age - examining whether a correlation exists (inversely or not) with the frequency and distribution of crises in capitalism.

The performance is based on canonical data extracted from a Google ‘timeline’ search for the phrase ‘the history of revolution’. This function, built into the most recent version of the search engine, scans the internet for instances in which the terms in this phrase appear alongside dates from history. It then automatically plots a bar chart showing the frequency of these instances over the course of the last 360 years.

To choreograph Fireworks Display these 360 years were condensed into just one hour - so that one year passes every ten seconds. The 29 highest peaks in the Google bar chart were then matched proportionally to the fireworks contained in a ‘Sahara Selection Box’ - with six ‘Silver Bounty’ rockets being used to mark the largest of these.

The fireworks were then positioned precisely in a line from left to right in chronological order to echo the flow of the timeline and detonated one-by-one at the times corresponding to the dates from history. A giant ticking date display was projected on the wall and used to keep time. You can view more information about the choreography of Fireworks Display by downloading the explanatory poster or the stage notes for the performance by clicking on the links to the right under ‘Further Reference’.

The performance was first carried out at the Closing Party of the MFA Degree Show 2010 at the Glue Factory on 26th June 2010 between 23:00 - 0:00.