Environment, Review
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Constructed Land – 65,000 Variations on a Theme

Constructed Land, InterAccess 2012

Constructed Land is a multi-format exhibition that meticulously catalogues a two year/65,000 image archive of photographs scraped from the website of a weather station based in Kimmirut, Nunavut (Northern Canada). Mounted at Toronto’s InterAccess this past spring, the exhibition is comprised of a range of projections, displays, interfaces and a series of prints, all of which provide distinct views into this expansive temporal dataset. This undertaking, by David Bouchard, Bruno Lessard and Pierre Tremblay (with Alex Geddie), is a facet of a larger multi-year project called Nunavut Lights, an exploration of cinematic and data-driven narratives that extend out of a single vantage point from a remote community that is just shy of the Arctic Circle.

Video documentation of the dryly titled Observation Instruments illustrates the most open-ended work within Constructed Land, a pair of analog interfaces that allows a viewer to edit and tweak the nature and rate of vertical slices of frames streamed from the image database. The underlying source material has been archived at a rate of four photographs an hour (96 per day) and at the helm of these controls a viewer can fine-tune and reconstitute frames composed from the same time on different days and multiple times within one image – it sounds dizzying but it is actually totally intuitive and mesmerizing. This hyper-granular interface reveals the underlying logic of the broader body of work as a serious consideration of “the role of the webcam as an unbiased and unrelenting image collector” and “the use of natural data to define structure in time-based media.” Constructed Land is essentially a celebration of the tension between serial photography and interlocking daily and seasonal rhythms.

Constructed Land, Print Series

Seasonal ebb and flow is particularly foregrounded in One Year In Kimmirut, a series of large prints where each still from each day is stacked vertically and organized by month. The resulting array allows an entire year to be read from left to right and the distinctive midnight sun experienced in Northern regions in June/July is clearly delineated. This clinical exercise in forensic meteorology is mirrored by three haphazard stacks of CRT televisions (on the opposite side of the gallery) that asynchronously flicker while displaying myriad alternate views into the underlying image archive. Constructed Land is a lucid meditation on the mediation of landscape and manages to conjure a kaleidoscopic universe out the mantra-like repetition of a single frame.

Nunavut Lights project website | InterAccess
Kimmirutweather.com (data source)
Photos: Brenda Liu courtesy of InterAccess

Constructed Land, InterAccess 2012
Constructed Land, Print Series Detail
Constructed Land, Interface Detail
Constructed Land, TV Stack