Paul Pfeiffer

26 June 2014 - 26 June 2015

American artist Paul Pfeiffer's radical reworking of footage from the 1966 FIFA World Cup™ final brought a whole new meaning to the famous phrase uttered by TV commentator Ken Wolstenholme at the end of the match: “They think it’s all over, it is now.”

Timed to coincide with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Jerusalem revisited the most famous occasion in the sporting history of England, broadcast live by the BBC to one of the largest ever live audiences: an estimated 400 million people. As it was for viewers watching at home in 1966, the pitch is a black and white screen. But in this new work, it has morphed into a digital field of play. As the camera scans across the stadium, figures appear and disappear, fuse into each other and fade away like phantoms from another time.

Working with machine vision expert Dr Brian Fulkerson, Pfeiffer created a painterly study of emptiness and togetherness. The sound of a cheering, chanting crowd is haunted by voices from 1966; Prime Minister Harold Wilson; the President of the Royal Academy and the President of the United States; Alec Weeks, the BBC professional responsible for the live broadcast; and artist John Cage. Pfeiffer's elegiac work is a reflection on mythology and memory, and on the distance between a live present and a remembered past.

This video excerpt of Paul Pfeiffer's Jerusalem, 2014, is also available to watch on Vimeo and Youtube.


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The players reappear, but now as flickering ghosts in search of a lost ball. – Matthew Sperling, Apollo Magazine

Selected Press

When the match kicks off, the camera pans left and right after the ball, but now the ball and all the players have been digitally removed, and the roving gaze scans the empty field like a paranoid security camera. The players reappear, but now as flickering ghosts in search of a lost ball. – Matthew Sperling, Apollo Magazine, 11 July 2014
Echoes of empire and religion haunt Pfeiffer’s footage. Players ghost in and out of view as the crowd chants and cheers. As the spectral match unfolds, interactive audio tracks offer alternative narratives – bees buzzing, players talking, John Cage musing on silence and sound, Harold Wilson defending the pound… – Mark Westall, FAD magazine, 26 June 2014

About the Artist

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Paul Pfeiffer

Paul Pfeiffer first worked with Artangel on The Saints in 2007, and then in 2014 when he produced his first online work, Jerusalem.

Paul Pfeiffer is one of the most inventive artists currently working within the field of sound, video and new digital media today. Using sophisticated editing techniques to reconfigure footage from famous moments in pop music and sport, he creates works that look at the role iconic figures have within a global world of images to ask why we need these figures, and how we are made to identify with them.

Meticulously crafting moving sequences from the global archives of images, Pfeiffer has created a body of work that resonates prophetically with our present. His work examines the power of mediated imagery in a consumer-driven society where heroes and their worshipping communities are multiplied throughout the world.

Over the past several years Pfeiffer has exhibited in group shows in many museums around the world including the MoMA and Whitney museums in New York, Venice Biennale, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and the Castello di Rivoli, Turin. He has recently had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and K21, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Brought up in the Philippines, Pfeiffer now lives and works in New York City.

Images: Still taken from Paul Pfeiffer's Jerusalem, 2014 (left); Portrait of the artist Paul Pfeiffer in the carpark of Wembley Retail Park used for The Saints, 2007. Photograph: Thierry Bal

About the Technologist

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Dr Brian Fulkerson

Dr Brian Fulkerson builds science fiction. In the past, he's tinkered with robots the size of large cars that swam in seas and drove in deserts, with and without human direction.

His specialty is teaching computers to understand and process what they see with their cameras and other sensors. For this project, he instructed the computers in how to remove humans and other objects from video and turned them loose on footage of the 1966 World Cup.

Images: Self portrait created by applying the same treatment used in Jerusalem (above) and still from Jerusalem (2014) (left). 

Production Credits

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Production Credits

Artist: Paul Pfeiffer
Technologist: Dr Brian Fulkerson
Site design and build: Nat Buckley with Tom Stuart
Video editors: Sam Blair. Additional editing from Euan Donaldson at Hazel May Ltd
Audio production and research: Patrick Langley
Produced for Artangel by Charmian Griffin

Audio and Video Credits

Footage of the 1966 World Cup Final is rights managed by Infront Sports & Media on behalf of The Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

Domestic bee hive. Courtesy Moritz Haberkorn [morast] via

John Cage and Morton Feldman, Happenings for Radio (1966). Recorded at WBAI, New York City, United States July 1966 – January 1967. Courtesy of the Estate of Morton Feldman and the John Cage Trust via

United States President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defence Secretary Robert McNamara on the Vietnam war (1966). Courtesy of Miller Centre. This audio belongs in the public domain as it is a creation of the US Federal Government. 

Speech by president of Royal Academy of Arts, Walter Thomas Monnington, discussing Bauhaus and attitudes to West Germany (1966). Credit details withheld at request of rights holder.

Uwe Seeler and Helmut Schon recalling the 1966 World Cup final.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson returning from the US 30 July 1966, the day of the World Cup final. Credit details withheld at request of rights holder.

Alec Weeks, former BBC producer and commentator, who directed the 1966 World Cup final coverage, as interviewed by Sue MacGregor for BBC Radio 4's The Reunion, produced by Whistedown Productions Ltd.

Marshall McLuhan on the communications revolution (1966) as part of a programme including a discussion between McLuhan, Edgar Dale, Gilbert Seldes, and Keith Tyler on the impact of mass media communication on Western civilisation, recorded by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Education Division. Office of Education. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration via


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Who made this possible?


Commissioned and produced by Artangel and The Space.

Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England and the private patronage of the Artangel International CircleSpecial AngelsGuardian Angels and The Company of Angels