May 26 – June 17, 2018
Opening Reception: Sunday, May 27, 2 – 5 PM
Popular culture revolves around the idea that actors, sets, spoken lines and special effects are not a constructed reality, shot frame-by-frame to enable the viewer to get lost in the plot, but rather reality itself. This creates a ‘false consciousness,’ based on ersatz representations which television and film makers intend for viewers. I began to pursue the idea of exploring this false, fabricated reality as the basis for an exhibition, particularly as it’s a subject I have close, first-hand knowledge of: I’ve worked in art departments in the Toronto film industry for the last 20 years.
The Nature of Reality and the Reality of Nature includes a projected video loop consisting of a series of 3 minute videos. I filmed them while rustling trees and observing lighting and special effects on a successful, 4-season (so far) American TV series. At the beginning of Season 3, the executive producers informed me that some viewers had called to express a particular disturbance: during interior scenes, the trees which I’d placed outside the windows were not “moving in the breeze” and therefore “didn’t look real.” To solve this thorny problem, I was asked to shake the trees manually by tying filament to them and gently rustling them, during the brief takes in which a window with an exterior view was in the shot.
The Nature of Reality and the Reality of Nature consists of footage of myself in the act of shaking the trees; I also caught on video a helium “moon” whose artificial light shone down onto a constructed waterfall, and a cozy living room, whose crackling fireplace flames up instantly thanks to a quick propane torch.
In addition to the projection, the administrative desk has been subjected to a process referred to in film as “breakdown.” This indicates the artificial aging of props, sets and costumes on a film set to emulate the time period in which the story takes place. Though I’ve worked on projects that span millennia, for the objects in this show I’ll limit history to the last ten years, a period not yet obsolete and dingy. The act of re-inscribing recent history on an object speaks to the central role this ‘false consciousness’ plays in the creative process.
My film work has enabled me to experience a wide variety of projects and budgets. I’ve been hired onto multimillion dollar projects such as Pompeii, as well as many small independent films, and also union productions for notable directors such as Denis Villeneuve, Denys Arcand, Deepa Mehta, Bruce MacDonald, Don McKellar and zombie guru George Romero.