Room 2

Soft Turns



The movement between what is accessible and what is inaccessible, between the comprehensible and incomprehensible is at the heart of the video ENCLOSED, 2009, a dual-channel projection, which presents two synchronized spaces of miniature libraries (predominantly built out of books). As the camera moves mechanically, arbitrarily, through the twin spaces, one witnesses the changing scenery like a passenger, caught in its unyielding movement. The challenge is for the individual to negotiate their own level of engagement, to navigate this indefinite space.

The movement, which is presented as a tangible physical experience and a sign translated by meteorological symbols in Bourgault’s installation, also plays an important role in the video diptych Enclosed (2009) by the Canadian artist duo Soft Turns. Comprised of Sarah Jane Gorlitz and Wojciech Olejnik, who each also pursue solo careers, this collective makes animation works using the stop-motion technique whereby inanimate objects are used to create movement. A cross between photography and video, this process functions in the opposite way of live action film. Objects do not move during shots, it is their slight shifts between images that, when projected at a set speed, simulate the flow of movement. This lengthy and laborious process endows animation with a certain colour, and makes it a good fit for the current proposal.

Enclosed takes place in a library emptied of its patrons. Rather than moving between the shelves one strangely passes before them, as though one were not really in the space and perceived only a vertical slice, the surface of which is traveled over thanks to a remote controlled device. One moves forward, but without ever entering the site, without really feeling its materiality or depth—the objects, books and shelves always seem to flee before the lens. All of a sudden, one finds oneself moving through the walls and floors, going up without using the staircase. This lends the space an illusory feel and reveals its fictitious nature, the fact that it is actually a scale model, a three dimensional miniature.

The staccato sound, reminiscent of the noise made by a forklift truck, follows the rhythm of the camera’s changing directions and contributes to creating a distance between our position and that of the space before us. In fact, no sound seems to emanate from this unusually still library.

The impersonal and cold point of view reminds us of its mechanical origin, of its being transmitted via a recording device which remains present and does not vanish before its object. On the contrary, it is rather the mediating mechanism that should here be viewed as the central subject. Though there is in fact narration in this work, the tale it tells unfolds according to an external focus, which is characterized by the objectivity of the narrator, who is outside the action, situated on the sidelines as an observer.

As the journey through the space comes to an end, one is thrust right up close to the books and word-filled pages, but this is not accompanied by the tactile, intimate and emotional dimension of reading. The text fragments scrolling by as images with nothing to tell us, end up completely disorienting us regarding the scale of the space. Language is here revealed in its graphic dimension as a sign, and as such it echoes Bourgault’s coded cartographies and sounds which remain stubbornly illegible to the novice eye.