Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Paradise Institute

The Paradise Institute is the title of a work that was on display at the London Art Gallery (but which, unfortunately, has left) by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, that suspends you in a place between illusion and reality - shaking your perceptions and layering your perspectives. i went to see this piece twice (only because i went four days before it left) and i am still thinking about it, so i thought i'd write a little something about it here for you, so bear with me as i go into laura style detail about my experiences experiencing this clever work.

as you walk into the art gallery, this exhibit was in the lower gallery, you can look through a large set of windows onto the work. from here it looks like a big cardboard box - a plywood trailor, no windows - just sitting there in the middle of the room. as you make your way down the stairs, someone is there to introduce the work, and seat you in either the front or back rows. what rows? well, it turns out there are two pretty doors cut into the box, which contain, as you look inside, two rows of red velvet seats and a matching red carpet. this is the first of many surprises - slights of hand.

you walk into your aisle and ahead of you is a model of an old theatre house - balconies to the left and right, small rows of empty seats - all facing a screen. no glass seperates you from this model.

then, you put on a set of headphones, the person who seated you leaves and the lights fade to black.

into your ears vibrate an audience - people making jokes, a woman answering her cell phone, someone farting followed by laughter. i look over my shouder to the left and right, i swore i came in here alone. then a voice calls out, "shhhh, it's starting."

i'll jump from here to the film itself - a mix of genres; film noir, sci-fi, thriller, experimental film. the narrative is disjointed and the film itself seems very cliched - packed with the conventional tropes associated with each film genre included. but, what keep it from being boring is how it - complimented by the "soundtrack" and space itself - keeps you rocking (or swinging) between knowing what is real and what is an illusion.

for me, the piece puts you in limbo - a greyspace - a nowehere space - a neither nor space - between illusion and reality (or, fiction and reality i suppose). you're pulled towards thinking one thing and then, just as those thoughts are starting to take root, they're immideately challenged / pulled. back and forth like this. and, just as if you were to turn around in cirles for a while and then stop, after you leave the exhibit and the art gallery itself, you're head's still spinning.

let me tell you about one of these back-and-forth(ing) moments.

so, you're seated with the headphones on. expecting the sounds coming out of them to be the sounds connected with the movie. they aren't, but then, they are. okay, so you're in the audience and watching a film. ahh, that's more comfortable now. then, someone is shuffling down the aisle. hey, they're getting closer. they sit down beside you and then she whispers right in your ear, "here's your drink, you can share my popcorn" and starts chomping away. should i drop your hand down for a handful? will there be popcorn there?

there isn't. this woman stays with you for a little bit and then leaves because she's worried she's left the oven on - a house burns on the screen after she walks out. spooky. yes, especially when you're the only one there, and constantly second guessing whether you actually are or not.

o, and it gets more spooky when the villian...but i'll stop there. i hope i've aroused your interest as it is simply a phenomenol work. apparently janet does walking tours as well that i want to look into experiencing, so keep your eyes open.

if you ever hear of it in a museum near you - don't hesitate, check it out!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Word / Picture Mixer

this poem came from an activity i did with the kids to celebrate poetry month - pasting words and pictures on pages to create silly stories and poems. (sidenote: i have scanned my original work and am in the process of attaching it to this message, so you'll be able to really get a sense for the play of this activity). here is my poem, which i think is part one of a series... (dom dom dom)

[Tales from the Swamp]

THE Griaffe STAR BUBBLES like, if FLAKES (The Original and Best * L'original et le meilleur) JUST Spring on Green sandals. HOW Beautiful Seedless mosquitoes, hunt your fresh Zesty worries. for AWESOME PRIZES! some fish downtown run, learn and laugh all day long. for FREE Red Hot RICE.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bjork Video

*thanks kyle, this video is fantastic. meow*

Thursday, April 06, 2006

planting trees

i wrote this poem after my first season tree planting for the conservation authority - it has been gradually changing with time, workshops and submissions - and i have recently been emailing a woman who wants to publish it in Poetry Canada magazine, so exciting.

it has been a while since i have posted - taking a while to settle into this writing on the net and publishing - so i thought it would be nice to post the poem,

[sunken in alfalfa]

breathing beneath seed parachutes
sugar maple keys
handing soil a mouth for green
ash burr oak white pine

umbilical cords,
reach like octopus

squirreling over moist fields
plunge, eyes perk

rolling fossilized mysteries

freely fumbling foals, stretch
long-limbed imagination

dive into triangles to
nose the earth

off a dandelion crown

the rain
the sun
catch the wind
with a bubble wand


peace to all of you who are still planting this spring, we are all thanksful for this. i'm off for a walk with the waking trees and my little life hounding pup.