Opening Reception // June 1 2018 at 7:00PM
-PATHIE is an interactive installation featuring video elements and a kinetic sculpture, revolving around the themes of engagement and apathy. It questions our relationship with the world, and with works of art in particular.
In concert with the exhibition, TRUCK & Shelf Life Books are pleased to present a reading room in the Parkade Space, which includes content that aligns with the exhibition and expands on its ideas.
Essay by Nathalie Bachand
What is at work while we give attention to things around us?
Which kind of engagement does this represent?
Are we then engaged with reality?
Are we away from it?
Or from us?
-PATHIE, an interactive video installation by Montreal artist Andrée-Anne Roussel, is composed of three projections (two large and one smaller), a flat screen, as well as a kinetic sculpture. The ensemble is cinematic, creating a distance between the viewer and the projections, while the materiality of the sculpture simultaneously produces a sense of proximity, a contradiction that results in a sense of ambivalence, when considering the entirety of the installation. The sculpture is made of a coffee cup installed on a base elevated to eye level. Observation of this everyday object, both mundane and familiar, creates a reflex of recognition, the sensation of being in a known world. But which world is not that clear. While approaching the object, one notices that it acts, in fact, outside of the logics of our world: the coffee inside the cup starts slowly whirling, as if moved by an invisible force – but from where, or by what, is this force originating? Does it come from us, the viewers?
Invisible forces are at work throughout the project. The invisible here acts not only as a driving force that induces, perhaps, mysterious movement that flows from us, but it is also a form of attention. To be attentive is an invisible way to engage with reality: no movement, no sound, not much else other than witnessing the world around us. Attention may also take the mask of apathy, or its good-looking mirror, empathy. While we watch the two large projections in the space, we can see this tiny boundary between apathy and empathy: each character is acting in a very non expressive way so that we cannot tell what their feelings really are. They are, however, attentive. And while we may think that they are detached because of their non expression, they may rather be strongly engaged with the world. Cunningly echoing this engagement, we perceive the movements that animate the objects: a hanger, a screw, a knife, an egg, a plant, and again, the coffee that whirls with regularity inside a cup.
Objects are framed in all four sequences. In the projections, there is an almost unnoticeable connection between them and the characters: objects are in sight, silently observed in the daylight. Then on the flat screen, they are alone, moving by themselves, animated by a life, a will, or a blind force. Here, in tight framing, the moving objects are underlined as quotations. What do the objects say about themselves if not that they are breaking up with reality in a way that we do not control? Or maybe we are in control without knowing it? Which brings up the question of interactivity, of its modality and degree of demonstrability. Are we activating something? How can we know if this is the case? Interactivity is often understood as an active, even proactive, way to engage with artworks. Providing the public with a sense of amazement and the desire to entertain generally lies behind interactive work, as if it has to be impressive, playful, and appealing in order to manipulate, often operating through a tactile mode. But we are not there: the interactivity here should be comprehended as a means for a mere presence to influence the environment around it, just by being there, by existing. Have we forgotten that the fact of being alive has an effect on the world and its matter?
-PATHIE works as an environment wherein reality is not given as something obvious. Characters see things, while they are simultaneously seen through other lenses: an infinity of active perspectives coexist in the same room, as we may witness in the smaller projection. Forces here are so slightly visible, and yet, they create a complex play of interactions, as subtle as the air when there’s no wind; the light, allowed by an open window; the glowing dust in the sun at 6pm; the dust again, blown by our breath. Environments and objects are constantly reflecting and capturing micro changes happening all around: we don’t notice it, but absolutely everything is in motion, always. Similarly, attention slowly moves from one thing to another, alternating between apathy and empathy – engaging itself with the world.
Nathalie Bachand is an art writer and curator. Actively involved in the cultural field, she regularly writes on the visual and media arts. She is interested in the issues of digital technology and its conditions of emergence in contemporary art. In 2016, Bachand co-curated, with Chloé Grondeau, the exhibition ADC/DAC by the New York artist Phillip David Stearns, presented at Diagonale as part of the BIAN’s 3rd edition. Most recently, she was curator of the group exhibition The Dead Web – La fin, presented at Eastern Bloc, and of the project of 32 exhibitions UN MILLION D'HORIZONS of the Accès culture network for the 375th anniversary of Montréal, which took place in the summer of 2017. Bachand currently holds the position of direction of cultural knowledge for the centre en art actuel Sporobole where she writes short essays on art-science relationships.
Andrée-Anne Roussel is both a filmmaker and new media artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in film production and a Masters in Communications (concentration in research-creation of experimental media) from l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Her interactive video installations and sensory short films are the result of her research on themes of ambiguity, failure, fragility and empathy. Her work has been shown at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival, Musée d’art de Joliette and at LABoral Centre de Arte.