Metamerism: North West

Andrew on August 1, 2004. Tags:

August 2004. Digital video.


Metamerism: North West documents an epic journey through western and northern Canada. The journey covers more than 7600km, and begins in the port town of Vancouver, tracing through the mountains of northern British Columbia, into the historic gold-rush of the Yukon, across 400km of remote pock-marked gravel road in the Northwest Territories to Yellowknife, and down into the vast flatlands of the Alberta prairies to Edmonton and Calgary. The hour long video is comprised of a number of almost still, framed shots lasting from 45 seconds to 10 minutes.

Shipyards, glacial lakes, gravel pits, float planes, small deserts and street corners show us the passing of time as a subject in itself, with the narrative left open to the viewer, or to chance. In Vancouver, a man waits on a bench for someone or something; he drops a paper that is retrieved by a passerby. In the Yukon, the distant clouds project shadows across stony mountains. Near Whitehorse, we see small figures packing a tent across the verge of a small desert. The meaning, past or future of these events is unclear, and we are led to speculate about their nature or our nature. Anticipating deliverance in the form of an event that describes our reality, engages ideas we have about lived and mediated experience.

The element of chance, serendipity, or intuition plays a role in the presentation; the work is a continuous loop without beginning or end. For the viewer, only part of the entire piece is seen at any one time and much of the time we spend trying to work out where we are. We look for telltale signs of location, the character of people, and time of day; the clarity and length of the images should afford this, yet the scenes are not immediately forthcoming. Making sense out of the smallest of events in the day provides clues to what might lie behind.