Echo & Abyss
10 channel HD video, 26 minutes
Echo & Abyss is a dramatically large scale 10 channel synchronised video work consisting of 13 chapters with an accompanying choral score by Alex Turley.
The project has 2 parts (the first informing the second) and unfolds as both a psychological and physical journey exploring the complexity of ones unity with the ethereal in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety. As a whole the work is a homage of sorts to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, a monologue of the poet coming to terms with human existence filled with symbolism of salvation.
Blending poetic fiction and reality, the project embraces notions of hopelessness in order to more wholesomely accept inevitable extinction. The desire to reconcile ones relationship with the world around them is juxtaposed with that “world” being put at risk by humankind itself.
A series of site specific performances inform the work which foreground the limitations of the human condition, and puts forth a fractured consciousness seeking an impossible unification with a greater whole. By working site specifically the physiognomy of landscape becomes the principle language shaping the project, as both a medium and mediator of a possible reunification.
Part 1 embraces Sierre, Switzerland as the resting place of Rilke and particular key surroundings are harnessed as a conduit. From journeying to the depths of a nearby cave to devotionally documenting the death of leaves from trees surrounding his home, delicate panning observations are entwined with subtle but precarious gestures. A tight human embrace is doomed to break apart from which the self than seeks salvation through the natural world. The body at times is put in an extremely vulnerable position. Immersed in a lake within Pfyn forrest during winter dawn, the
body of water is at freezing point. Peering precariously close to a cliff edge into a void, standing on the inner flank of the notorious Eiger as a storm approaches, or standing directly in line of a rockfall and avalanche chute. The body is surrendered, given over. In this sacrifice is an equilibrium. Moments of hope glimmer. Reflecting and refracting light into, or from, a soon to be dry river bed holding a circular mirror offer a respite of sorts. But as scenes progress the body slowly dissolves into its surroundings to the point of disappearance, from which point alpine birds circle, an interlude and a mourning.
Where the first half of the project deals with the individuals insignificance and fragility within nature, enshrined with a sense of reconciliation, part two deals with the fragility and disappearance of nature itself. Any possible hope of redemption or solace in ones actions is lost in the enormity and unfathomable nature of the landscape to unfold across the remaining scenes.
Greenland’s Ice sheet, both a crucial and highly vulnerable environment, becomes the protagonist as the project transitions and culminates in the high arctic during winter. Its glaciers and melting ice sheet lose close to 281 million tons of ice to the ocean annually, and as such is one of the world’s largest contributor to sea level rise. Within the context of this Jakobshaven/ Sermeq Kujalleq, Greenlands most active glacier, is a key contributor and becomes a central focus in the remaining scenes.
A circle is drawn with a line, and a path is followed. The route of an iceberg is traced back to its source. Through a crack in frozen sea ice we are gradually introduced to the fastest surging glacier in the northern hemisphere. Observing the incomprehensible Jakobshaven glacier our eyes are then so subtly introduced to the Ice sheet feeding it. Staining this infinite surface is the minuscule silhouette of a human figure walking on its surface.
This stark contrast offers a dual perspective on fragility; the figure, a human being, is consumed within yet represents the greatest threat to this landscape. The tension of which foreshadows a finite end.
This project has been assisted by the Government of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts, Western Australia