Night Playgrounds Touch Video

Night Playgrounds explores the outcome of sky-high city prices. They force young people to seek out activities that are cheap, accessible but often forbidden. By climbing fences into closed communal locations, young people use the “privacy” afforded by nighttime, they blur the boundaries between private and public. They search for an intimacy that’s almost always at arm’s length.

Through expressive paintings, textiles and a touch video interactive experience, this installation is a thoughtful visual and sensorial experience. Somewhere between fantasy and reality, documentary film and visual fiction, Night Playgrounds is a painting of these young people come to life.

The installation is a combination of paintings, videos, and textile elements selected and customized to fit the gallery space. I am planning for several paintings and about a few short-loop videos operated by viewers touching specific objects e.g. a beer can. Paintings will be hung on the walls and the videos on flat screen monitors, also mounted on the walls, with each showing imagined urban spaces.

As I have 8 videos on loop and 24 paintings, I am open to working with curator/gallery to narrow down to the most effective curated selection of what I am proposing. I am also open to problem solving and working around any limitations of the space that might come up.

The video performances lie somewhere between being staged and how they organically interact with one another. For example the performers all had significant agency over their own wardrobes and how their bodies were represented within the videos. Each short performative looped video talks with the physical paintings and is colourized, as a narrative painting that is larger-than-life. This creates glimpses of a non-linear narrative of an adventurous summer of pool hopping, drinking, and carving out their own space.

Transforming the white cube, some of the walls are painted a very dark blue and lighting is added so that the viewer can re-experience nighttime. Paintings and elements of the installation will need special lighting. Each painting is lit with a spotlight that is masked with cinefoil to direct the light.

Viewers are invited to touch objects that come out as fragments into the space – remnants from this performed evening – such as beer cans and swimsuits, which are on plinths in front of paused videos on flat screens. Touching each object activates a different video. It stops when the viewer stops touching the object. The element of touch to pause and play videos allows viewers a tactile agency in experiencing the exhibition.

Depending on the size and configuration of the gallery, a streetlamp (bright light attached to ceiling) could cascade through fabric leaves covering the ceiling the way tree leaves hover above the streets. (The leaves are attached to less visible nets.)

If the gallery space is large enough, I could create hot pink knit chain link fences to divide the space, separating a textile pool, allowing viewers to see video on loop within, but not allowing them to enter the space. These separations mimic the forbidden spaces in the paintings and videos. The viewer is not allowed entry inside the pool but remains a voyeur to the textile water and video projection within.

A different variation was shown at Vidéographe in Montréal with Trinity Square Video. See the essay by Maiko Tanaka

The artist would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for this project.

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