Video can quite effectively create a highly immersive effect when it takes on a sculptural dimension. Take for instance Ergin Cavusoglu’s Point of Departure, 2005, a multi-screen video installation with an array of screens designed to allow the viewer to ‘walk into the picture’.
The configuration of screens is outlined in plan form below:
The large rectangle depicts a projection directly onto the floor that adds a sixth screen to the installation. The work possesses a narrative dimension that concerns travel, a normal part of any professional artist’s life in the international art world at the turn of the millennium. The screens depict the non-place that is the airport with its beautiful colour x-ray images of luggage (projected onto the floor), the security staff, the conveyer belt to the x-ray machine, people sitting waiting, and the man playing the protagonist in this visually deconstructed story having a cup of coffee. Then, after careful perusal, we may put together sufficient pieces of the puzzle to glean the point of the trip: a meeting regarding a Turkish literary text that requires translation.
At all stages the six screens provide us with constantly changing scenes that are interrelated. Sometimes the screens at the back of the installation create time shifts. The woman the man has come to meet picks up her handbag to leave the coffee table on the right hand screen but on the middle screen she is still finishing off her discussion with the man. Then they finish their discussion and we see her pick up her handbag from a more central point of view coincident with the placement of the screen in the installation. All of this takes place amidst a soundscape which serves to increase the sense of immersion in the scene. One is also aware that the constant travelling the non-place of the airport are references to the dislocated space time of postmodern life.
But we also realise that postmodernity is really a heightened form of modernity. In this work one senses also the connection between the postmodern world and the modernist sensibility. The Cubists expressed the modern sensibility via a deconstructive shattering of classical perspectival space. They wanted to express experience of the then very new and exciting modern urban life via a dislocation of space and time that also reflected the time based visuality of the technology of cinema.
Digital video and unobtrusive LCD projectors have enabled the Cubist experiment to be exploded into the space of the video-sculptural installation. And Point of Departure is a paradigmatic instance of how to use the new technology to create a powerful and involving immersive effect. Most viewers spend thirty seconds in front of a painting, most visitors to Point of Departure spend ten to fifteen minutes partly because our narrative curiosity want to see what might be happening next, but also because of the theatrical immersion the attraction of which lies in the sense that this is a space somewhere in between reality and imagination.
Ergin Cavusoglu’s Point of Departure, 2005, was exhibited at The John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, 4 May – 17 June 2006. Point of Departure was co-commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. Supported by Arts Council England and The Henry Moore Foundation with additional thanks to Haunch of Venison.