Arthur

(1988, 5 channel SD video installation, 8 channel IR surround sound, dimensions variable)

 

The five-channel installation Arthur is a four-dimensional audio-visual landscape (space and sound) which explores the frontier zone between wakefulness and sleep, between memory and amnesia.

In Arthur, the four channels that are "asleep", running in 7 and a half minute loops, are each in opposition to the static "awake" channel, a constant flow of landscapes, ranging from urban views of the North to the refuse on an underwater archaeological site in the South. These landscapes are presented in the form of mini-fiction episodes, taking real characters, reversing and inverting the order of situations in an uninterrupted development of parallel realities, which sometimes converge and sometimes diverge. In the soundtracks, the narrative and discursive logic is sacrificed to syncopated anarchy of speech, creating the conditions of representation of a reality of conscious and subconscious memory. The video film which documents the installation comprises sequences from each of the five channels, mounted in a loop; the "awake" channel shows the back view of a man, sitting in front of a computer on a table in front of a window; this mise en abyme of screens in the screen is accentuated by the sporadic overlay of images either in the computer screen or in the window. The other four channels show very sophisticated images which generate others in a flow with no beginning or end; from one channel to another, the same shots return, each time mounted in a different way.

The installation comprises between six and eight monitors, depending on the space available and ten loud speakers. The four monitors playing the "asleep" images are placed so that the spectator cannot see more than one at a time, whereas the two or four monitors running the "awake" images are installed in the corners of the area, so they are visible from any point in the room. The sound channels each put out an independent soundtrack and are immersed in an atmosphere of confusion where the use of memory is essential - the spectator goes from one sound or visual source to another, constructs his own narrative, his own story. This installation was commissioned by "Video Wochen Im Wenkenpark 1988" in Basel, Switzerland; premier exhibition July 1988 and obtained a prize at The Hague World Wide Video Festival in the same year; funded in part by The New York Foundation for the Arts and Dekart Video, N.Y.

(Lysianne Léchaut-Hirt, in New Media Encyclopedia)