Where it’s been.
Artcite. Windsor, ON.
Articule. Montréal, QC.
Eastern Edge. St.Johns, NL.
The New Gallery. Calgary, AB.
Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Lethbridge, AB.
A few words about “Still”.
The roots of the project are primarily in the audio experience of the space, though it has grown to become a primarily socio political piece. The initial prototype was constructed around 1997 and was soon after disassembled, but the structural concept stuck with me. It was much later that the notion of automating the process and adding the controlled sequences and the fish came about. At this time, the social issues surrounding the piece became central.
Kay Burns writes, “ …water is a resource that has been taken for granted for too long. It is a resource surrounded by controversy. The current (May/June ) issue of Alberta Views focuses entirely on water issues and includes articles on the controversial practice of using millions of gallons of fresh water to extract oil from the ground, of surface water contamination by feedlots, of the sale of Canadian water to the USA and other countries, and of concerns pertaining to drought.
“Still” is an electronically controlled, automated reproduction of the water cycle. With a rising awareness of the delicate balance of the environment – but with a reluctance on the part of some governments and industry to respect this balance – “Still” becomes like a giant iron lung; a survival tool for the six goldfish dependent on the clean water that this mechanised construction produces.
Kay Burns again, “…The sound of water dripping is amplified in the space, and the clicks of the sensors and the water pumps provide a disconcerting mechanical ambiance to the installation that exaggerates the issue of control over supply and demand. The presence of the goldfish provides an unexpected poignancy – a concern for their well-being in the fragile environment (and) of their dependency on water, and ours.”
I would add one additional point. This has to do with the trust we place in technology to bail us out from the damage we cause. “Still” from this view is a work of speculative fiction, exploring the disturbing possibility of life support networks becoming necessary for the survival of life. Overall, the experience of “Still” is both strangely beautiful and unsettling.