Stan Douglas (Vancouver, 1960) creates a work whose purpose is to provide the viewer with a multiple experience, with the objective of igniting a critical attitude about culture and the means of creation and distribution of so-called "cultural events". This exhibition consists of four pieces: Overture (1986), Monodramas (1991), Hors-champ (1992) and Pursuit, Fear, Catastrophe: Ruskin BC (1993), all of them are composed of image and sound and produced between 1986 and 1993. The main subject matter of these pieces comes from film and television: these are the media chosen by Douglas but it is also the object of analysis in which he focuses his research on image technologies and the configuration of Western scathing visuals, challenging at the same time that media.
The binomial silent film and sound narration or added soundtrack is the starting point to the structural base of Overture and Pursuit, Fear, Catastrophe: Ruskin BC. For them, he uses materials, mechanisms and resources from the origins of cinematography: in Overture he uses Edison Brothers movies on a journey through the Rocky Mountains, in 1899 and 1901; and in Pursuit, Fear, Catastrophe: Ruskin BC a new transcription from the work of Arnold Schoenberg: Musical Accompaniment to a Film Scene (1929-1930) constitutes its soundtrack. On the other hand, the ten micro-fragments that make up Monodramas respond to a commercial advertisement model, a linear narrative structure and which have almost absurd themes. These, designed to be placed between advertisements without explanation, "produce a crisis in the audience, breaking the spectator’s viewing habits and disrupting the continuity of television programmes," according to exhibition curator Christine van Assche.
As for Hors-champ, the subject of the video is a recording of a free-jazz or New Thing piece that, as Douglas himself points out, is an "expressive idiom of Afro-American music characterised by simultaneous improvisation by the whole group and by a relatively harmonic freedom". It refers to a musical trend that emerged in France in the 1960s and fell into disuse years later. Recorded live and the way musical productions for television were made at the time, Hors-champ is projected on two screens simultaneously on each side: on one the final recording is shown and on the other all that was edited out, proposing a sort of counter-narrative. In these four pieces presented, Douglas heads four moments in the history of the twentieth century, his works place him at the beginning of a new era in the history of representation and in the construction of subjectivity, while insisting on a conversion between the media of communication and the media of artistic production.
Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, París (January 12 - February 7, 1994); Kunsthalle, Zürich (June 4 - August 7, 1994); Witte de With, Rotterdam (September 10 - October 30, 1994); Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Berlin (January 20 - March 5, 1995)
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