This Is Not a Center…
… only one part of a constellation of parts. Twilight on the Edge of Town is a video installation and website project comprised of two related elements: the first is a project website, seen here, that distributes the souce video files as fragments through torrent files indexed via a custom peer-to-peer network. In contrast, the second part comprises a large-scale, two-screen immersive video installation whose constituent elements are drawn, edited, and produced from the same source files. Rather than at a central repository, these materials are over time held and shared publicly and collectively by an ad hoc, shifting network of users—a community inventory—that, in an allusion to what thinker John Berger describes as the “continual labour of reassembling what has been scattered,” is in constant formation depending on whomever is online.
The video installation is set in an ambiguous present, and its images are composed of 3-D wireframe forms: a provisional format, flattened and incomplete, yet suggestive of volume. Accompanying the scenes are a child and and adult speaking out of frame simultaneously. Seemingly unawares of the presence of the other, their respective monologues narrate the images at the same time as their words fall into synchrony in rhythm and response. One however describes her past, while the other speculates about the future. Here, remembrance slips into projection and back, as past and future interweave.
A Profit of the Incomplete
On this website, the image files used in the video are available for free as part of a torrent-based peer-to-peer network. In this way, viewers transform into users, one node in a system of other nodes, who also constitute an unstable archive of the project. The site acts as a distribution tracker that indexes the files and maintains a realtime count of the active participants in the network. Through the torrents made available on the site, the source files can be downloaded from other users, the artwork then reconstructed or else used in other ways, and the source files reshared collectively. Following standard P2P torrent protocols, active sharers are indexed as “seeders,” while downloaders are indexed as “leechers.” This info is dynamically listed at the head of each torrent listing. Throughout 2020, the website will launch essays by various authors and thinkers.
Twilight on the Edge of Town in part fathoms the question of how “distance” becomes a concept that brings the “near” and the “far” into a changing relationship of two elements with one another. References include points ranging from science-fiction to literary sources, structural film, and speculations on questions of place and collective memory. The project builds upon my ongoing exploration of perception and technology and the relationship between reality and myth that underscore our understanding of history and contemporary culture.
Twilight on the Edge of Town was launched at Art Metropole, Toronto, on December 13, 2019. The installation will be exhibited at the Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, Canada, in 2020. The project is generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program.