During the past 12 years we've been developing a unique form of installation
art. Starting with the observation that the most essential qualities of
our selves lie in a realm that is difficult to perceive and experience,
we have centered our installation work in the Territory just past the boundaries
of the everyday world point of view. A visitor to a Territory installation
is invited to step through to the other side of their usual perception and
experience the place where their essential connections can be seen and interacted
with. Much of our Territory work is based on the Buddhist formulation of
form and emptiness. Usually our everyday view point interprets the world
as all form with little or no emptiness permitted. In the Territory the
emptiness is more readily seen and experienced.
Earlier this year we presented a Territory installation entitled A Clearing In Maya Wood. After working 4 months on the building phase, we opened the piece for general viewing in June 98 for a period of 3 weeks. In July we began rehearsing a performance to take place in the installation. We will re-open the installation for two weeks in late September, with the Territory event/performance (An Expedition To Maya Wood) taking place on October 2 & 3.
Because this grant application is a continuation of some of the ideas and forms that were discovered and developed during this work, it seems important to start this proposal with a bit of talk about A Clearing In Maya Wood. Situated in our gallery/studio space (The Territory Orphanage, 87 Wade Ave #305, Toronto) it occupies an area 35' by 40' by 14' high. The support material included with this proposal shows some of the sections and individual pieces that make up the Clearing. Lit exclusively with candles and oil lamps, this installation gives access to a meeting place in the Territory where a number of Territory characters come to interact with visitors from our everyday world. Those who came to view the installation temporarily took on the role of visitors to the Territory and often interacted with the installation space by playing instruments found there, singing or toning and/or meditating on the mats that were part of the individual pieces. In the October performance visitors can sit amongst the trees at the edge of the clearing and observe the Territory event that takes place between Characters and Orphans; or they can take on the role of a Territory Orphan and directly participate as part of the interactive event. The point here is that, while the installation can be appreciated solely as a visual presentation, it can also give access to a real place in the Territory where events actually happen.
As we present this installation in different ways, we increasingly realize that the Clearing In Maya Wood is just one section of a larger landscape. Over the next few years we plan to discover and bring into form other places that are part of Maya Wood. The characters who come to the clearing must have houses somewhere else, personal home spaces they have left to come to the meeting. The plan for 1999 is to find one such house (Garian's House In Maya Wood) and present it as an interactive Territory installation.
Garian's house is not your everyday world, everyday house. There is of course a certain "houseness" about it - there are walls, a roof, doorways and windows and such - but there is a lot of emptiness there as well and the form will follow the energy of this emptiness rather than the rules of everyday structure and architecture. Weighted linen-string screens will probably be useful to keep the form and emptiness of the house walls co-existent. The attic area will be even more porous, with fabric shapes and string forms bringing out the more subconscious (or perhaps over-conscious) energies. The roof itself will unravel its form and move through the higher reaches of the space to settle into and become the trees of the surrounding Maya Wood.
Outside the house will be a yard and garden where Maya Wood and Garian's house merge and lose their identity. Standing by the front door you are neither in the Wood nor in the house. Where are you? And where do you go when you enter? Inside the house there will be one main room which will be an interpenetration of all the usual rooms associated with an everyday house, plus a few more which are not usually apparent in our everyday world. To the observer it will look almost as if the hidden qualities of the various house shapes have come out of the background and taken precedence over the more recognizable everyday functions. This will also be true of the various objects found in Garian's house. Objects will take on added qualities of time and potential besides the usual aspects of form and colour. Their shape may seem somewhat distorted when initially viewed, but it will become apparent that this is because there is more information contained in their shape than the usual 3-dimensions can hold.
This is also true of the house itself. Some of the empty content and potential of the rooms that have interpenetrated in the main house space will "leak out" of the house shape and become accessible outside the house itself. This may at first seem disorienting to the observer, but will soon be seen as a natural presentation when viewing 4 and 5 dimensional aspects in a 3 dimensional space. What are these 4 and 5 dimensional aspects? Many of them are clearly emotional and unspeakable; some are quite familiar, though more thoroughly accessible through this unique multi- dimensional approach. Time and the potential events that give rise to time's larger shape will become as real and apparent as the more usual three dimensional forms. Each object and place in Garian's House will take on an added intimate quality as we see its own personal story becoming part of and informing its actual shape. A tea pot, for instance, would present its story of pouring throughout it's physical shape, almost as if space itself was pouring itself into place.
When the emptiness of impending action comes to the foreground, form and structure are dampened and slip into the background. In a gradual, yet compelling way the viewers of the installation will begin to realize that something is about to happen in Garian's House, something unimaginable from the everyday world view, yet quite real and actual in the Territory. Garian is coming back to his house, and soon. The observer will feel that it could easily happen while they are there. What should they do if (when) this happens? How much longer can the house be viewed until it is impossible to slip away unobserved? Would it be valuable to wait and meet this Garian? Do you shake hands with such a one or just stand on you head (or run)? Is this Goldilocks without the three bears? Will Garian have something good to eat?
We plan to pay more attention to the variableness of light and sound with Garian's House In Maya Wood. For the Clearing installation we used candle and oil lamp light exclusively. This time we'd like to create a cycle of light that starts with fairly normal gallery lighting (seeing the installation as a presentational piece), cross-fades slowly (maybe for five minutes or so) to a Territory setting where candles and lamps are the main illumination (filled and supported by more emotional phrased artificial light). After ten or so minutes the lighting then snaps through an unsettling combination of effects that are quite unique to Garian's house (are in fact an aspect of Garian himself), until finally there's a slow cross-fade back to the everyday gallery setting. A soundtrack will also follow this same general pattern and be an extension of the lighting and/or vice-versa.
Following the manner of our presentation of A Clearing In Maya Wood, we will present Garian's House as a straight forward installation, then as a landscape setting that the Territory Orphans can visit (as well as anyone else who would like to join them). One thing for sure, Garian will actually return to his house and something will happen. We plan to be there.