Ebb and Flow

Single-channel video with sound by Andrew Zealley

 “…as the audience in the upper balconies made their way out of the hall and into the public space, and began descending the Lucite staircase to the bar and main lobby, one foot print floating on the translucent glass turned into two, turned into 4, 8, 16, 28, 40, 50, 100… The staircase became a living animation, a temporal and interactive sculpture of barely visible but fully recognizable shape shifting: pointed toes, square toes, high heels, women’s slender arches, the heft of a manly boot, all lifting and fluttering like fish in a stream yet each maintaining wonderful clarity even in the brevity of their movement. What started gradually, quickened and grew, then slowed into a conversation of shapes, some planted firmly in repose, while others glided past, ebbing and flowing while the buzz and din of many conversations swirled, until, the intermission bell chimed, once, and the journey turned upstream, not in haste, but gradually. 2nd chime, and the upstream flow quickens, intensifies. Third chime and a few stragglers flutter upwards, the click clack of leather soles beating a retreat over the receding din.

(Journal entry, Sept 2006, after first visit to the new 4 Seasons Opera House in Toronto)

Ebb and Flow finds its genesis in the imagery of people descending the grand Lucite staircase in the lobby of the Four Season’s Opera House in downtown Toronto. It is an observation that riveted me when the theatre first opened in 2006, and over time, I surreptitiously gathered several hours of video footage on my iPhone 4S by planting myself many times under said staircase.  This is my first exploration into using video within my practice, and the iPhone material has been edited, finessed and distilled into a 6:22 minute video.

Having come from a painting practice, the resulting film represents in no small way, a large, animated painting which captures a phrase of time, marking transitions and movement as part of a rhythmic, organic process. By virtue of the translucent material, the shapes gliding past are both familiar and strange, hovering in that place that curator Shirley Madhill described in her preface to Sublime Embrace (Art Gallery of Hamilton 2007), “ …on the threshold of ambiguity and recognition”. It also presents a compelling narrative as groupings and pairings contrast with lone operators in an ever-shifting story of interconnectedness – evocation and specificity conveyed within a temporal flow of pattern and form. Both human and organism, it represents a rich parade.

To compliment the evocative quality of the imagery, I collaborated with composer Andrew Zealley whose Nocturne # 2 for Electricity with its canon-like repetitions and silences, beautifully underscores the visual rhythm and patterning, the cumulative result inviting a reflective, engaging audio and visual experience.

In a symbiotic dance between what is lived and imagined, what is remembered and what is created, I am always interested in mining the power of images and the icons of experience that help envision the breadth of the world in which we operate.

Exhibition History:

Video-Art Box, Artists’ Project, Toronto, 2013