Echo & Abyss
10 channel HD synchronised video, 26 minutes. Choral score by Alex Turley
Dramatically scaled and cinematically shot, Echo & Abyss explores the complex nature of ones unity with the ethereal in an age of increasing anxiety, denial and isolation. As a whole the undertaking is a homage of sorts to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, a monologue of the poet coming to terms with human existence.
Made up of 13 chapters and divided into two parts the unfolding journey begins in the poets resting place of Sierre Switzerland and concludes atop the Greenlandic ice sheet.
Blending poetic fiction and reality, the project embraces a sense of hopelessness in order to more readily 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 guide the work, foregrounding the limitations of the human condition and put forth a fractured consciousness. One which seeks 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.
The first half of the work embraces Sierre, Switzerland as the resting place of Rilke and particular 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, panning observations are entwined with subtle but precarious gestures. The body at times is put in an extremely vulnerable position. Is surrendered.
In this sacrifice is an equilibrium.
As scenes progress the body slowly dissolves into its surroundings to the point of disappearance, from which point Alpine Chough’s circle. An interlude of sorts.
Where the first half of the project punctuated human vulnerability & insignificance within nature,
part two stresses 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 Sermeq Kujalleq, Greenland's 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 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.
This project has been assisted by the Government of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts, Western Australia