The air up there: Kimmirut Weather and Constructed Land

Summer travels always put us in mind of the weather and its extremes. Between sunny skies, stifling heat, and sudden storms, we become exquisitely aware of the weather, and how it may impact our precious few days of vacation. We check the five-day forecast, we debate packing the rainwear, and once we’ve left, we keep tabs on the weather back home, glad to be free from the heat of the city, or sad that we are missing out on some of the best metropolitan weather in weeks.

Perhaps with this in mind, Interaccess opened their summer season with an exhibition based in the documentation of weather from the far northern territory of Nunavut. We were lucky enough to have seen Constructed Land earlier in the month and had planned to write a review of it before leaving; that didn’t happen. Now we’re back, the exhibition is closed, and we’re offering up a brief après-view instead.

Constructed Land was a visually stunning show that featured the multidisciplinary work of David Bouchard, Alex Geddie, Bruno Lessard and Pierre Tremblay, four artists who became captivated by the website Beginning in 2010 and stretching over a period of nearly two years, they captured images every 15 minutes from the Nunavut-based webcam, creating a database of some 60,000 images of an otherwise nondescript northern landscape.

Through strategies of parsing, processing, remediating and remixing, the artists create new lenses through which to view the landscape, largely static yet ever-changing in its dramatic weather extremes. For two projected works by David Bouchard, processing power is largely given over to the viewer, who is free to manipulate the images into endless permutations which play out magically across the screen.

Across another entire wall, Bouchard has compiled a series of photographs taken from one year in Kimmirut, a total of 35,000 images. Arranged in chronological order among 12 panels representing January to December, the images coalesce into a richly visual infographic, revealing complex meteorological patterns and trends at a glance. However the work also transcends its data-driven origins, becoming fascinatingly sculptural at varying distances from the wall.

Across from the photographs, Pierre Tremblay’s assembled banks of television sets flicker with a random assortment of images from the database, foregrounding the vast array of colours and textures of weather, and, by virtue of the medium’s anachronistic allure, emphasizing the remote, timeless quality of the site and the virtuality of the project itself.

Alex Geddie’s sound installation, evolving according to an algorithm that mashes up meteorological data tied to images in the space with recorded fragments of Beethoven, Schoenberg, and the sound of a running generator, becomes integral to the experience of the other works, shaping our perceptions of a place which becomes no more real through our experience of the exhibition, but rather takes hold in the mind to attain an almost mythical presence.

See and hear examples of work on the collective’s project website,
Read more about the Constructed Land exhibition on the Interaccess website
The website is itself a fascinating thing to see; find it here

images: David Bouchard, Observation Instrument #1, 2012, custom software and electronics; exhibition view; David Bouchard, Observation Instrument #1, 2012, custom software and electronics; exhibition view; David Bouchard, One Year in Kimmirut (detail), 2012, digital prints; Pierre Tremblay, Constructed Land, 2012, single channel and 12 channel video, 24 minutes

Note: Exhibition views were included to give a sense of the installation scale and construction; where screen-based images appear somewhat blown out in these photos, the actual artwork images were more colourful and clear. Please refer to the artwork images and the artists’ website for a better idea of screen-based content. 

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