Double-channel audio-video installation
SVHS video transferred onto DVD
Duration: 6-min.45 sec., loop
Soundtrack produced in collaboration with Ivesh aka Shane Ives.
Image recorded at the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Headquarters in Paris. Sound recorded at the Tongariro World Heritage Area, New Zealand. Edited and mixed in Auckland, 2003.
The Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris is an ensemble of three buildings designed by the architects Marcel Breuer (United States), Pier Luigi Nervi (Italy) and Bernard Zehrfuss (France).
From its inception in 1958, UNESCO commissioned many works from modernist artists, displaying them in its gardens and its buildings. The UNESCO collection consists of pieces by Moore, Calder, Reitzel, Ando, Picasso, Le Courbusier and many others. Inspired by traditional Japanese garden design, sculptor Isamu Noguchi designed 'The Garden of Piece'. Not only is the garden authentically Japanese - since all the plants and stones came directly from Japan - but it also shows a unified concept of natural and sculptural form. Although its architecture caused a stir in Paris at the time of the inauguration, the UNESCO headquarters has since become an outdated monument to Modernism that could almost be seen like a background to a 1958 science-fiction movie.
Last year I spent three months residing in Paris, during which time I visited the UNESCO Headquarters and its sculpture garden countless times. My first impression of the building was one of surprise at its state of decay. I found this quite humorous, the irony of UNESCO's role as a 'global protector' of 'unique cultural and natural heritage sites' that cannot keep its own Headquarters in a reasonable condition. Intrigued by its important international role as well as its 'utopian' modernist architecture, I kept coming back.
It was the middle of the Parisian winter when I started recording this fascinating environment, with one idea in mind - to wait until the sun shone upon UNESCO. At the time of my recording, the pond, pool and fountain were frozen and the sculpture garden was covered with snow. The environment was deserted, with only traces of human presence. In order to film a few rays of sunshine, I spent long hours waiting and recording. The sun makes only brief appearances during winter in Paris. At times I thought my attempts to capture a moment's sunshine would be fruitless, but fortunately after seven days of recording the sun came out. There was something poetic about the winter sunshine on that aged modernist monumental building covered in snow, with 'frozen' sculptures in its garden. I was taken by an illusionary moment - when the entire environment seemed to be melting along with the snow.
I thought about the sound for this video when I got back to New Zealand. It had to be related to UNESCO, but come from here. Tongariro National Park sprang to mind - a world heritage area. Significantly for the project, Tongariro National Park is the third most distant UNESCO World Heritage site (among 730 sites in 125 countries) from its Parisian Headquarters, but it is also the closest to Hamilton.
The soundtrack has been composed in collaboration with Ivesh, aka Shane Ives. He has used ambient sound as well as computer-generated noises to create a soundtrack of 'never-ending' suspense.
In the exhibition, two projections have been duplicated in order to create an architecture-like element in the corner of the gallery. Two very different locations collide: the urban and the natural; edited images from Paris and mixed sounds from Tongariro. Thus a fiction is formed - it is an experiment in suspending notions of time and space. Event Horizon is played on a loop, without resolution, endlessly.
Mladen Bizumic, November 2003.