Michael Ashley

Visual Arts etc.

Souvenir 2 - Arboretum Memorials - 2008

Designed as an immersive audio visual experience, this artwork follows in series with Souvenir 1 - Slope as an ongoing exploration of memory, both public and private.

Details

Audio-Visual Installation. Three channels of video, eight channels of sound. Played on a loop of 18.5 minutes.

The video includes images of twenty memorial trees. Each image is animated to transform from full colour to black and white then to a blurred version before dissolving to black.

The audio component layers ambient sound from the Arboretum where the images were made with a voice quietly reading the dedications related to the trees. The sound moves from speaker to speaker, mimicking the effect of a walk in the park through fallen leaves.

Artist's Statement

Although not immediately clear, upon reflection I can see threads of continuity in my work at the University of Ottawa over these last years. One is the examination of aging and the impact of the passage of time. Another is a questioning of memory: how does it work? How does it define who we are? A third is the interrelationship between Nature and Culture.

These themes deal with cycles, identity and knowledge. They highlight the reality of impermanence and the poignant contradiction, so obvious in art, between the desire to create something of lasting significance and the knowledge that such a goal is ultimately futile.

The images and ambient sounds were recorded at the Arboretum of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. The trees I chose to photograph are all dedicated as memorials to someone (or something) and the names being read are linked to each tree.

April 2008