A simulation of a path through the database
"Machine for Taking Time (Boul. Saint-Laurent)" is a work
commissioned by the Fondation Daniel Langlois in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Two hi definition cameras were mounted on pan-tilt mounts on the east and west sides of the Foundation building in MontrŽal. 1024 images per camera per day were recorded from precise points of view for a year from March 2006 to March 2007. The resulting database of about 750,000 images is explored by two computers, and they stitch together leisurely continuous pans through the city, staying true to the spatial trajectory but shifting unpredictably through time.
Sometimes it stays on one day for a while. You can follow the micro-narrative of a stroll through the park. Other times it starts slipping through time, moving from day to day as it progresses from position to position. The human narrative falls away to be replaced with the shifting of climate and the seasons.
This cavalier relationship to time echoes the movement of human memory as it leaps back and forth across time. But Machine for Taking Time (Boul. Saint-Laurent) gives this fluid time travel of memory the immediacy of vision. The sensation of the pan keeps the eye in the present, drawn to consider the changes in the image as though they were plays of sun and light, to interpret them as live, unfolding experience. But just beneath this shifting surface there is a sensation of something very still, something like an ideal MontrŽal hanging in a hybrid space between particulars and abstraction Floating in this river of externalized remembering, in this complex area between the singular and the idealized, I am reminded of the strangeness and beauty of memory, which, every day, tends to fall into familiar invisibility.
Copyright 2010 David Rokeby / very nervous systems / All rights reserved. 11/24/10