The visual material for Waterfall is a continuous take of a
large and "scenic" waterfall. The falling water, as
it cascades down a sheer craggy rock face, crashing over huge
boulders on its way, fills the entire video frame. Thousands
of tons of falling water displace a huge air mass that billows
out towards the camera causing spray to be deposited on the camera
lens. Over a period of five minutes this process obliterates
the vast three dimensional image of the waterfall transforming
it into a two dimensional surface of shimmering water droplets
and thereby emphasizing the surface of the picture plane.
The shift in focus from distant waterfall to close up detail
was made by the camera’s built in auto focus as it gradually "decided" which
image to concentrate on. In this way it is the interaction between
technology and nature which governs the composition, editing
and duration of the image.
This five minute take is looped for continuous projection in
the gallery. At each repeat of the five minute take the viewer
experiences a visual jump from the tiny water droplets on the
picture surface to the vastness of the deep space image of the
The sound is comprised of two elements: the white noise rush
of falling water recorded at the time of shooting and the close
focus sound of the "same" water gently running down
stream behind the camera. These two elements were cross faded
over a period of five minutes as the image changes from that
of waterfall to that of water droplets on the surface of the
A large translucent projection screen is suspend from floor
to ceiling of the gallery, and sized to exactly match the projected
image. This screen is placed in the centre of the space inviting
the viewer to examine the image from all angles and to pass behind
the waterfall. The thin, stretched, membrane of the screen draws
attention to the surface of the image, the delicate play of light
on the lens of the camera. Thus the fragile and transitory nature
of the digital image is seen in sharp contrast to the vastness
of the mountainside and the thunderous roar of falling water.
Projecting the image on this scale magnifies the image of the
water droplets on the surface of the lens drawing attention to
the substance of the waterfall itself. This large scale projection
also magnify the digital pixels that, in a similar way, constitute
the substance of the video image. Perhaps it would not be too
whimsical to suggest that the pixels are to the video image,
what the water droplets are to the waterfall!
The viewer is encouraged to explore the video image, engaging
with the physical space of the gallery as well as the representational
space on the screen. This combination of camera work and projection
strategy combines to challenge the framing of the landscape as
picturesque or as "sublime" Instead the emphasis is
placed on the material substance of the projection and, by inference,
the solid physical presence of the waterfall itself.
Made with financial assistance from the Arts Council of British Columbia.