The scene opens on the stark white walls of an empty dance studio. A dancer’s body appears on the floor out of nowhere, its gender ambiguous. The dancer merges into another dancer, who seamlessly continues the gestures of the first. Slippery pools of colour emerge on the blank floor and walls: pixelated pastel blocks dart across the white paint, while shimmering fluorescent forms bleed together like spilled ink.
Suddenly, the screen—blowing violently in the wind and attached precariously to a building on Halifax’s Barrington Street—erupted in a twirling cyclone of limbs and arms, which twisted in and out of focus, fusing together and tearing apart.
This experience was part of “3X3X3,” a month-long exhibition in Halifax that presented video art in public spaces during the city’s Photopolis festival. Presented by Halifax artist-run centres Eyelevel Gallery and the Centre for Art Tapes, “3X3X3” joined the forces of three curators—Céline Jouenne, directing manager of France’s Videospread; Michael McCormack, director of Eyelevel; and Mireille Bourgeois, director of CFAT—in presenting three artists over three sites.
The Barrington Street segment focused on emerging Toronto-based artist David Frankovich’s reimagining of Norman McLaren’s famous 1968 ballet film Pas de deux. Frankovich’s short film Plus de Deux uses a digital compression artifact technique called “datamoshing.” By embracing this particular form of data error, Frankovich’s piece reduces each frame into a beautiful, silent flow of movements and colours.
German video artist Michel Klöfkorn screened his stop-motion short N.N. on the side of the Granville Mall—home of a year-round Christmas store, among other attractions. In N.N., Klöfkorn brings to life the spikes often used to deter pigeons from roosting on buildings. The spikes rally themselves together, metamorphosing into a buzzing, robotic throng of stainless steel and plastic insects that overtake civilization. The eerie clicking sound of several tiny wire legs, darting across various surfaces, serves as a playful warning regarding our interventionist relationship with the natural world.
Double Fountain, a collaboration between Quebec artist Julie Louise Bacon and Australian artist James Geurts, also examines our relationship with the natural world, focusing on a recreation of an ancient, water-based clock designed by Arab engineer Al-Jazari (1136–1206). Screened on a pier in the Halifax Harbour, Double Fountain stood erect—a glowing monument over the harbour at night—calling into question our use of public space, our frenzied relationship with time in the digital age and our tendencies regarding what we choose to memorialize.
Overall, the artists in “3X3X3” reclaimed public space, transforming three outdoor places and exploring the degradations, technical implications and juxtapositions generated when considering the moving image in relationship to the photographic image.