Hooykaas/Stansfield & duPont
After Image - After Language
à la mémoire de / to the memory of Elsa Stansfield
text part of the invitation
AFTER IMAGE / AFTER LANGUAGE is an audio and video intervention conceived by Madelon Hooykaas, the late Elsa Stansfield and Chantal duPont specifically for the urban landscape of Montreal. The intervention, realised by Hooykaas and duPont, has two sites within walking distance of each other, the lake in Parc La Fontaine and the storefront window and gallery of La Centrale on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. The artists' work is informed by concepts of 'fluid geography' first proposed by R. Buckminster Fuller. A third site of intervention is thus implied, that of Buckminster Fuller's largest existing geodesic dome, the Biosphere, a short metro ride away on Île Sainte-Hélène.
At La Centrale, inside the gallery, is a sculpture inspired by Buckminster Fuller's Dynamaxion World Map. Buckminster Fuller created the Dynamaxion map in 1943 as a means of visualising and understanding new global relationships that were not represented by the commonly used Mercator maps. The flattened hexagonal form of the map went on to become the basis for many of his ideas and designs including his geodesic domes. One of Buckminster Fuller's findings through the development of the Dynamaxion map was that the Earth's geography could be understood as a unified large body of water surrounding several landmasses (or continents). Buckminster Fuller's idea that the planet is constituted of water, an essential conduit and life support for its inhabitants, is the leitmotiv of Hooykaas/Stansfield's and duPont's project.
With After Image/After Language , the artists pursue Buckminster Fuller's quest for finding unexpected (fluid) geographical connections. Their video sequences, shown after sundown in Parc La Fontaine, are projected on a hexagonal screen anchored in the lake. With the unique form of the screen and its placement in the lake, the artists link it to the geodesic structure of the Biosphere and to its island setting. Likewise, by placing one pole of their intervention in a storefront on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and the other in the lake of a park, they boldly link a busy urban thoroughfare to a peaceful natural oasis.
After dark, in La Centrale's storefront window, the artists rear-project images of flowing water that refer to and connect to the water of Parc La Fontaine as well as to the water in the Saint-Laurent River that flows past and services Montreal. Visually, the projection is an 'after image', a residual view, a collective memory of the water surrounding the city. During the day, recordings of birdsongs played outside the gallery also link the boulevard with the park. The sound of the birds is a reminder of the ongoing presence of nature in the urban environment, and, as the songs are more of a resonance than a presence and not processed intellectually, they are perceived beyond thinking, 'after language'.
Buckminster Fuller, considered time as a relative observation, a series of sequences of experiences, of 'after images' formed in our minds, a kind of spontaneous reaction caused by memory. With After Image/After Language , Madelon Hooykaas, Elsa Stansfield and Chantal duPont have conceived a project using complex yet elegant combinations of sound, image in unexpected settings to trigger our perception and our memories in the city, to make us aware of the flux of our surroundings and of our fluid connections to our natural and social environment.
Paul Landon, artist and art critic, 2006