Life Across Words (2010)
Project conceived and developed during a residency at the Canada Council Paris Studio (Jan – April ’09) and shot during a residency at the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro North Carolina (Aug ’09). The project has been conceived as a creative response to the work and ideas of French writer George Perec, best known for his epic novel ‘Life A Users Manual’, a work that maps a conceptual narrative around intersecting lives within a Parisian apartment building. A member of the OULIPO group of writers and mathematicians, Perec adhered to the group’s philosophy of constrained writing techniques and developed ‘Life A Users Manual’ through a complex system of narrative generation and play. In addition to writing novels, essays, radio plays and film scripts, Georges Perec was also a crossword-setter and Life Across Words takes on this form as its physical structure, with each of the 24 monitors representing a letter within a crossword of five intersecting names/characters: Stephanie, George, Danna, Eliza and Dan.
The Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina is a ‘living museum’, artists collective and residency centre based within a large, three-story former thrift store. Artists come to the museum for residencies of one month to work with the collection and create new site specific/responsive works from objects in the collection and/or spaces within the building. An old, eccentric building with multiple levels within levels (towers, mezzanines, platforms, fire escapes), Elsewhere is a museum based on a ethos of ‘play’ as a serious strategy for human interaction, learning and engagement with the material world. Elsewhere also maintains a ‘reading list’ of texts relevant to the mandate of the collective and George Perec is on their list. Elsewhere was founded in 2003 by the current Co-Directors Stephanie Sherman and George Scheer who both appear as participants in the video project, have both studied the writings of Georges Perec and have both agreed to contribute essays to the proposed exhibition catalogue. The other project collaborators are Danna Rooth and Dan White, both currently members of staff at Elsewhere, and Eliza Fernand, a fellow Artist in Residence.
Life Across Words is comprised of 24, 13” television monitors arranged in the form of a crossword. Each of the 5 words in the crossword is the name of one of the collaborators. The ‘text’ is formed by letters found within the Elsewhere museum, using objects and materials, architecture and signage. Each project participant ‘moves’ through the monitors that spell out the letters in their name, meeting up with fellow participants at the intersection points in the crossword. The use of careful shooting and editing in addition to the use of video synchronization technologies to maintain frame-accuracy between the media on each television, allows for complete control over the timing of all the actions. When a participant moves from one monitor to the next, the ‘live action’ is replaced with static images of the letter of the alphabet that the monitor represents.
Bed Time Reading (2010)
8’ x 7’ black and white laser-printed, tiled images. Clear pins. Tentest backing.
7 interactive wing-backed chairs with embedded sound devices.
Interaction system designed by David Ogborn.
Audio production by David Ogborn at the Electroacoustics Space and Performance (ESP) studio, McMaster University.
Stories written and performed by Rachelle Viader Knowles.