The Terminator Line1987-90MEDIA: Mixed media collages, dioramas, book, film, editioned prints, posters, t-shirt, postcards, exhibition catalogue and a series of carriage clocks commissioned by Libertys
X-ray the streets.
The nature of cities appears in the smallest evidence.

This ambitious project grew from a narrative text Tilson started writing in 1984. Over the next five years he visited the East Village in New York during different seasons walking the streets below 14th Street, between Third Avenue and Alphabet City, getting to know the neighborhood shops, bars and cheap restaurants. His fictional character Mr Emerson returns. As well as helping the New York Sanitation Department empty their dumpsters and clean the streets Jake took photographs, video and cine-film, taped radio and TV stations, and wrote. His luggage was full of metal, plastic, stationery supplies, found printing, used light fittings, electrical wire, door handles, nuts, bolts, screws, metal moldings and signage, either found on the streets or bought in second-hand electrical stores on 2nd Avenue and hardware stores on Canal Street. Attention to detail is important in Tilson’s work so even the screws used in the dioramas were chosen carefully – avoiding products that could be bought in Europe. In the 1980s this was easier to do than on subsequent trips in the 2000s.
Tilson drew on his Excavator-Barcelona collage experience and adapted his approach to photographing in New York – taking images that could be used as components in work.
As he got to know the material he’d collected work formed slowly into sculptures, collages, publications and audio-visual works. Materials were further extended by treating them on xerox machines and video printers. During the project he was commissioned by the Bath Art Fair to make t-shirts and posters, and Libertys commissioned him to make clocks - these commissions were used to extend the content of The Terminator Line into other media.
The Terminator Line project in its entirety was exhibited at the Nigel Greenwood Gallery in London. The book however had a wider reach as it was featured in many books/magazines on contemporary typography, appeared in artist-books exhibitions and was even listed in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. At the book launch in New York at Printed Matter at Dia Art Foundation his cine-film Outtakes The Terminator Line was screened.

"X-ray the streets! The archaeology of attrition reverts mankind's urban mark to geological strata revealing a city's true identity, not the illusion peddled by politicians, developers and the media. Avoid the visual ersatz trappings of shopping malls, pedestrian precincts and theme-park cities. Hunt the native and vernacular in everything. Buildings, streets, graphics, television, anything touched and worn away by the city's inhabitants."

Jake Tilson, exhibition announcement,
‘How Far is An Hour’,
Galleria del Cavallino, Venice, March 1990



The visual juxtApositioNS of mOdErn life converge in JAke Tilson’s multiple art forMs. Adam Levy, Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine



Photographed outside the Holiday Cocktail bar, by Jennifer Lee, for Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine.

"In The Terminator Line , Tilson does with consummate skill what he has already shown us he can do, orchestrating typography, fragments of maps, labels, advertisements, messages, photographs and street signs to evoke a landscape of quotation, controlling the mixture of the recognisable and the mysterious to perfection....The Terminator Line’s story touches a tender nerve despite its humour and absurdity, picking at our awareness of environmental threats and self-destructive forces, at out attempt to blind ourselves by focusing on the mundane."
Cathy Courtney - ART MONTHLY, 1992