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Video Installations : Machine for Taking Time (2001-4)
Commissioned by Oakville Galleries

Installation shot of  "Machine for Taking Time", Gairloch Gallery, Oakville

"Machine for Taking Time" is a work commissioned by the Oakville Galleries for the show "Earthly Delights / Deep Gardening" curated by Su Ditta. This installation is asite-specific work in progress. A colour surveillance camera has been mounted outside the gallery on a computer controlled pan/tilt mechanism, allowing it to see most of the surrounding gardens. Every day since March 28, 2001, the system has been taking still images from 1079 pre-determined positions along a sweeping path around the garden.

During gallery hours, the computer software travels through this accumulating archive of images, wandering through time, but progressing very slowly and smoothly through the successive positions in the original path.

The software does four kinds of wandering. It sometimes moves along the path using images from a single day. Or it might disolve sequentially from day to day as it progresses along the path. Alternatively it might dissolve from date to date randomly. Occasionally it will stop its movement along the path and show all the images taken from that position in rapid succession. The shifting of modes and the choices of dates is a function of a somewhat random process, and so the piece never repeats itself.

While the piece unfolds experientially as real-time video, the apparent continuity is an elaborate fabrication in several senses.

Each still image is actually a 4 second exposure, and the recording process each day takes place over the course of an hour. These stills are stitched together and shifted to provide a slow, seemingly seamless cinematic gesture. (Each iteration of the path takes between 15 and 20 minutes in the installation).

Within the strong spatial continuity of this slow progression, time fluctuates quite radically (i.e. mid-summer to mid-winter in the course of one second). The progression through time is softened somewhat by dissolves, leaving many of the lesser jumps in time feeling like plays of sun-light across the landscape. Time moves very slowy and very fast at the same time.

A montage representing a section of a possible path in "Machine for Taking Time"

In the gallery, the installation is made up solely of a floating rear-projection. The screen hangs in the middle of a room with a large bay window looking out onto the garden itself through light reducing blinds (that also have the effect of abstracting the real garden and leaving the reconstruction of the garden in the projection seeming somewhat more real).


part of "Earthly Delights / Deep Gardening" at the Gairloch Gallery, Oakville, Canada

Wild 2002, The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Australia

Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada

Time and Place, Pari Nadimi Gallery, Toronto, Canada

Timeless: Time, Landscape, New Media, York Quay Gallery, HarbourFront, Toronto, Canada

David Rokeby: Silicon Remembers Carbon (retrospective), CCA, Glasgow, Scotland
Outlook Expressed, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada
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Copyright 2002 David Rokeby / very nervous systems / All rights reserved. 04/08/02