Artificial Paradise, 2008
four-channel video-audio installation, 20 minutes
Artificial Paradise is a four-channel video and audio installation which suggests a longing for spiritual transcendence, revealing a world of lingering energies after a possible obliteration. In a realm that is at once alluring and peaceful yet deserted and desolate, enigmatic figures appear and move in isolation as if waiting to be absorbed into the surrounding landscape. The work embodies visual and aural motifs of the four natural elements, and centers on notions of destruction, resurrection, and repetitive diligence as a means of transformation.
The majority of this work was shot on location in White Sands, New Mexico. Once an ancient seabed, it is now a surreal and beautiful landscape composed of white gypsum dunes. It is also the original test site of the fist nuclear bomb. This reductive landscape is paired with footage that was shot along and off the coast of an island in Maine. Moving from bright dawn toward the serene hues of twilight, the natural light, colors, and textures of these disparate, yet visually connected locations create the pictorial language of the piece. Performers are used as a physical and emotional presence in the frame, conveying intimate human gestures (often suggesting ritual or prayer as well as trepidation), contrasted with the largeness and grandeur of the landscapes.
Artificial Paradise is a chamber piece, an abstract dream world of intense shifting light and surfaces, constructed more like a dance with echoes of movement, tone and texture between the channels. Working across four channels allows the opportunity to create an echo in time, space and reality; to realize similarities, alternatives, and contradictions all at once, facilitating an open ended, simultaneous method of storytelling. An intricate array of images and sounds repeat, synchronize and then just as easily fall apart and disperse, striking a balance between separation and convergence, simplicity and complexity.
A poetically evocative and complex meditation on the miraculous, Artificial Paradise investigates themes of impermanence, transformation, loneliness, and buoyancy; through the acts of journeying, being lost and waiting.
This project was made possible in part through grants from The National Endowment for the Arts (Access to Artistic Excellence) and the New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artists Program.