Inferior Mirage

dual channel video installation
Digital video and 16mm film scan, 

Consuelo Cavaniglia on Inferior Mirage

Two films are projected at differing scales one over the other. Overlaid and of uneven duration, the two films works to variously frame and complexity one another, while at times negating each other through blocking or screening. Shot in the dunes of the Sahara Desert near the border between Morocco and Algeria, the work presents a complex consideration of the medium of film itself, whilst addressing the dilemma of representation of the landscape. Though both are presented in digital form, the first is a digitised scene of a 16mm film, the second a digital film collaged from off-camera documentation of the performance of filming in 16mm.

The mythical landscape of the Sahara confronted Laura with the question of how to respond to a space that ‘appeared as virtual as a Windows screensaver. Everywhere I pointed my camera - film, digital or mobile - I saw the cinematic landscape, stock footage, geo tags.’ Distancing herself from the role of cliched adventurer, she retreated from the landscape: ‘I started to walk backwards, I did not want to see where I was going but rather allowed my shadow to lead… filming upside down with my 16mm Bolex so my footsteps would pick up their tracks once the film was reprinted and played in reverse’. In this asynchronous series of moments there is the distance to find a way of responding to the environment.

Laura’s actions recall Walter Benjamin’s thoughts on past and future in his Theses on the Meditation of History (1940), discussed through the image of the Angelus Novus (1920) by Paul Klee. Describing Klee’s angel, Benjamin says, ‘the storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows toward the sky. What we call progress is this storm.’ Laura’s work does not suggest that the future is chaos, but it is certainly complex, as we negotiate identity, representation, authenticity, image and meaning. Perspective needs to be tested and questioned.

- Text from John Fries Award 2018 catalogue 
Consuelo Cavaniglia is an artist and curator based in Sydney Australia