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Changing Light

Chris Welsby
2004

A Single Channel Interactive Video Installation

Changing Light

The water surface fills the frame. A constantly changing pattern of ripples plays across the water surface, which reflects an inverted image of the trees and rocks on the opposite shore. Each take, recorded over a period of several hours, depicts the complex variations in the water surface as the breeze rises and falls.

The sound mixes the mesmeric sound of water lapping on the lake shore with the distant, and somewhat ominous, sound of a jet aircraft passing high overhead. The jet sound echoes up and down the harmonic scale and is a dramatic sonic event in its own right. It will also be an intrusive intervention into the otherwise peaceful scene and a sound, which, appears to further agitate the surface of the lake.

The image of the lake is projected, via a surface silvered mirror, onto a horizontal screen measuring approximately 10 ft x 9 ft and raised about two feet above the gallery floor. Seen from a distance, the surface of the water appears to be miraculously suspended in mid air. Close up, this rising of the screen gives the water the appearance of having depth.

Viewed from one angle, as the viewer enters the gallery, the perspective of the water surface and the reflected trees makes sense spatially since the viewer's angle to, and distance from, the water surface is very similar to that of the recording camera. As the viewer moves around the "lake," however, the spatial coherence is disrupted, since the reflection will not move as they move. The water reflects only the image of the trees and rocks, that surround it, and not the image of the gallery. A close inspection, staring straight down into the water, reveals not the bottom of the lake, or the reflection of the viewer's face, but only an abstract pattern of light and shade mixing with the electronic components of the video image. It seems that, through the process of representation, the lake has lost its ability to reflect the world around it. But, given time and contemplation, another reading is made possible.

The DVD recording has eight distinct tracks or "chapters" corresponding to the eight takes of original footage. The "chapters" are programmed to alternate in relation to the movement and presence of participant/viewers in the gallery space. In this installation "nature," as represented by the lake, is not seen to be separate from the technology that reproduces it or the people who observe it. The viewer is invited to participate in a model in which nature and technology are seen to be one and the same thing, inextricably bound together in a playful dance of colour and light.

First exhibited at Artspace Gallery, Sydney, Australia 2003.

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