"Prometheus gave us fire not for burning everything that’s alive, but to light the sky, and now, even our inner fire is burning out. Are we sane? I guess we are, and that’s the danger, as sanity wants to keep the fires going.
We’re on a planet sustained by nothing, carried through pure space by a willful star made of fire and in constant ebullition. Were travelers covering traveling grounds. Going, always going.
I threw away my compass to the waves".
Camber is a collaboration between movement/media artist Amber Downie-Back, musician Jane Chan and visual artist Ebony Rose. The guiding concept of Camber is emergence explored through the collaborator’s diffuse yet connected lenses. These lenses span new motherhood to ecological unrest and to finding one’s inner compass. Planetary, bodily and elemental imagery are layered in an exploration of endings and beginnings. Lulling resonant waves, porous surfaces and a flame-like body reflect the cyclical nature of the world.
One component, “Fire on Water” by Ebony Rose, in an exploration of emergence a flame drifts out to sea on a wooden raft. Rose created the raft and fire on Cortes, sent it out to sea and videotaped it. In the recording, in its vanishing flicker it comes to one last pulsing energetic climatic push before descending to sea. The video is viewed through a piece of repurposed clear plastic. Rain water drips down its surface and not only evaporates into the air and the space around us but enters us through our breath. Through a series of lenses such as the actual video on the wall, the wet plastic and the eyes of the viewer, “Fire on Water” shows transformation. This intervention, a reflection of ecological disruption and continuation, is embodied.
In the other component a sculptural hanging device interacts with Amber Downie-Back’s video. In Amber’s video a body moves in an undulating, flame-like motion, rising and falling around a vertical axis. Amber is also the dancer in this loop. The footage has been manipulated through digital media, and projected through a jar of water to distort the imagery further. It is then filmed again, layering transmutation and interconnection to the elemental. The emerging flame-like entity embodies the changing nature of memory and self.
The video loop as seen in the gallery is projected a final time onto a rotating round flat surface made of tracing paper (by Ebony). The paper has been textured by water formations that have dried. As the paper circle rotates the flame-body shifts between being held in a womb or planetary-like shape to stepping off the surface into the space. Interplays of light and shadow eclipse onto the wall.
The musical piece by Jane Chan, a pre-recorded looped track diffused through two loudspeakers, incorporates a layering of acoustic and synthesized tones. Simple sine waveforms are combined microtonally to create undulating sonorities that emerge and disappear into the tacit ambiance of the installation space. Tethered to the sine waves are vocalizations, modulated by rippling surface tension of water, that drift in and out of the track along with cello harmonics, digital feedback, and deep contact microphone samples. The auditory component contributes to a sense of lulling, interiority, uncertainty.
In all these evocations Camber speaks to presence while embracing the unknown and the comings and goings of the tide. The title Camber was chosen for its reference to an inward curvature and to the cello bow.