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Video Works : Whirl 2011

Whirl is based on video footage that I took from the 43rd floor of the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto, looking down over the skating rink across the street at Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto. It was late in the day, on a bright sunny day in January 2008 and the shadows of the skaters were very long. I have made many video studies of public spaces around the world, and had always looked for a way to capture the public activity of skating. It took 3 years to figure out how to do justice to this material. I was tempted to turn each skater into a paint brush to paint out the trails of their cycles around the rink, but I was not satisfied by the results, which were for the most part, less interesting than the original footage. In the end, I backed off. I filtered out the static elements of the image, and focussed on the skaters themselves. I rotated the video 90 degrees, to encourage the viewer to read the shadows rather than the people themselves. Then I slowed down the video to the point where it sometimes feels almost static, with the sense of a whirling rotation lurking under the surface. Then I very occasionally allowed the skaters to smear themselves across the rink, tracing out their trajectories for a moment and becoming abstract and surprisingly painterly.

"David Rokeby's sparsely beautiful (Whirl), an aerial view of skaters at Nathan Phillips Square on a cold, bright day, is enthrallingly oblique: as the skaters circle the rink, their long shadows cast across the ice by the late-day sun, their images morph and shift subtly into almost abstract forms."
-Murray Whyte, Visual Art Critic for the Toronto Star January 17, 2012

an excerpt from Whirl


Jim Campbell and David Rokeby, Pari Nadimi Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Art and Drinks, Toronto, Canada

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Copyright 2010 David Rokeby / Very Nervous Systems / All rights reserved. 11/24/10