InSiteOut was a collaboration between Sylvie Cotton and Chuck Samuels.
Commissioned by Dazibao for exhibition in January 2003, InSiteOut was part of the gallery’s initiative in which they invited two artists each year who, beforehand, did not know one another, to collaborate on a project for the gallery.
Further to Chuck Samuels’ interest for constructing alternate, self-containing, fictional and semi-fictional realities which deal with memory and photography itself as subject matter and Sylvie Cotton’s ongoing cycle of performances which, using her body as prime tool, seek to touch and disturb an audience with their intimacy, together they produced an installation which meditates on the nature of memory and reproduction. This work grew from a shared fascination with self-referential works, nostalgia, playfulness and vertigo.
For InSiteOut, Chuck and Sylvie, at first glance, seemed to have abandoned their core practices (photography and performance respectively), and created an interactive video/sculpture installation in which the visitor is invited to take a merry-go-round ride on a brightly lit, static portion of a merry-go-round embedded in one wall of the otherwise darkened gallery. As the viewer gets very close to the merry-go-round, a video camera, projector and sound system are activated. The camera is ceiling mounted on a rotating device so that it “films” the darkened interior of the gallery, including the area of the merry-go-round where the viewer is standing, and the projector projects this spinning image onto the corner of the opposite wall, while a soundtrack of a spinning merry-go-round with the cries of children playing is heard. The large black and white moving image of the spinning gallery projected back onto itself on the opposite wall as the merry-go-round, serves to invite the viewer to approach the projection to have a better look, but as the viewer leaves the close proximity of the merry-go-round, the projection and soundtrack abruptly cease, leaving the viewer alone in the dark.
The installation is an intriguing combination of high tech and no tech, of a simple child-like playfulness with a sense of adult nostalgia, a self-referential quality with a generous accessibility. Each viewing of the work was necessarily unique.
Complimenting to the installation, Sylvie presented a performance entitled Tournage on the night of the opening in which she invited members of the audience to go on a merry-go-round ride with her. Carrying a camera that projected an image on the wall behind the spectators, Sylvie ran in circles around a group of people standing still in the center of the room. The projection of her filming recreated the effect of a stationary camera filming a spinning group of people, however, the sound of her running, heavy breathing, and obvious distress at the self induced vertigo created a very disturbing spectacle.
Finally, Chuck and Sylvie produced an accompanying CD-ROM (an alternative exhibition catalogue), entitled Blind Date in which appears two versions of a short film clip (shot on super 8) involving spinning, vertigo, the gallery walls and a “real” merry-go-round. The third clip is a kind of poetic documentation of Sylvie’s performance of Tournage using the same images that were projected during the event edited with additional footage shot by Chuck, who was both spectator and passenger on the imaginary merry-go-round ride.
InSiteOut: Exhibition history
Solo (or duo) shows:
2003 Dazibao, centre de photographies actuelles, Montréal
Publication related to InSiteOut:
2003 Blind Date, Sylvie Cotton and Chuck Samuels, under the direction of France Choinière.