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New Westminster New Media Gallery
777 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia v3M 1B6
Only Connect EM Forster
What makes a bridge? That safe passage across difficult territories; spanning obstacles without closing off the way underneath. The increasing complexity and sophistication of the physical bridge taught us the mechanics of tension, compression, suspension, balance and connection. Over time these physical laws and interactions have evolved into increasingly abstract ideas, further transformed, expressed and communicated through metaphor.
Structurally, a bridge allows us to connect. In the human brain nothing stands out so much as the importance of connectivity. Is this the reason the bridge has became the source of our most powerful metaphors? The idea of a bridge exemplifies the search for connectivity in both the physical and metaphysical worlds and through the realm of our fertile imagination.
This exhibition looks at the interplays between the physicality of a familiar structure, its haunting sonic characteristics and a rich network of metaphoric and symbolic connections. In the exhibition space the bridge is embodied first through evocative and sensory (re)enactments of structure, light, colour and repetitive, hypnotic sound. The place under and inside the bridge is revealed as a hidden, vaulted world. Two works guide us through levels, illuminating the way. We can appreciate the functionality while feeling the uncanny. The third work is an ambivalent, cinematic journey that promises a destination but paradoxically, denies the arrival. Together these works evoke the Bridge; a journey, a conversation, a reading and (however fragile) the possibility of connection.
Bill Fontana, Acoustical Visions of the Golden Gate Bridge, (2012)
Bill Fontana is known for his pioneering experiments in sound art and is the recipient of the Prix Ars Electronica [email protected]
prize. His work has shown worldwide. His practice is concerned with acoustic memory, the transformation of the visible by the invisible, the relationship of the speed of sound to the speed of light, and the deconstruction of our perception of time. He uses the urban environment as a living source of musical information. In a career spanning 40 years, he often focuses on architectural monuments and other engineering feats; in this case San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. In one of his most well-known works he places a camera accompanied by a sound-capturing device under the deck of the Golden Gate Bridge. The result is what the artist terms a 'sound-vision'.
Willie Doherty, Drive (2003)
Willie Doherty first came to prominence in the 1980s with work that explored the complexities of living in a divided community. Much of his work reveals undercurrents of fear, oppression and uncertainty that for many was a daily experience of life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Doherty has twice been shortlisted for the Turner Prize and represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale. This work situates the viewer between two opposing video screens in a confined space. On one screen a man drives with eyes open; on the other screen the same man drives with eyes closed. The red and green lights that bathe the man’s face are evocative & filmic. Doherty’s depictions of urban life share the distanced quality found in the empty spaces of an Edward Hopper painting. Shot on a bridge spanning the river Foyle in Derry, this work suggests a connection between desperately divided communities.
Scott Billings + Josh Hite, Stairwell (2016)
Billings + Hite are based in Vancouver and have presented their work in North America and abroad. Billings often explores issues of cinematic spectatorship & the unconscious and the ways in which the apparatus itself reveals the mechanisms of causality. Hite’s practice is concerned with tactics for documentation and human movement through urban spaces. This collaboration was shot inside a hidden stairwell located within the Burrard Bridge. Stairwell documents a forgotten structural space by unraveling its 62-foot helical architecture onto the horizontal plane of the gallery wall. Drifting between surveillance and cinema, the long take stirs up fleeting moments of narrative and reveals traces of those who entered the space after its permanent closure in 1932.
WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION
Willie Doherty (N.Ireland)
Bill Fontana (USA)
Acoustical Visions of the Golden Gate Bridge, 2012
Josh Hite + Scott Billings (Canada)
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
New West TV, Deepak Sahasrabudhe
WAAP, Wil Aballe Art Projects
The City of New Westminster
Photo: Stairwell, 2016 — Courtesy of Scott Billings + Josh Hite