Thursday, October 21, 2010

On 'Heterotopia'

{In response}

This film/video work is an attempt to design a succinct example of heterotopia as defined by French philosopher, Michel Foucault {Of Other Spaces, 1967}.

To paraphrase:
In opposition to the inverse relationship to reality that is utopia, a heterotopia is an immersive virtual space, an intermediate flux {a space of otherness, neither here nor there, simultaneously physical and mental} that both reflects and alters the experience of the lived environment in which it is found.
This piece seeks to engage the aforementioned properties on three principle levels in an exploration
of storytelling through non-linear modes of interpretive pairing in image and narration.
• 2-dimensional projection in 3-dimensional space.
{In its ideal form, I would like to project this video on to a suspended, transparent surface so the viewer may explore both direct and inverse sides of the installation}
• Literary illustration of a garden of antiquity.
{According to Foucault, the garden serves as an early example of heterotopic space in the course of human civilization.}
• Dual narration {meta-narration of a narration}
Alternately alluding to both an interior and exterior perspective.
Does it reside in dream space?



There is an opening up ahead.
Overgrown, overlooked
{little choice now but to}


smells of black soil after the rain.
Low-lying brush grows roughshod over the irregular path…
A breach of sunlight cuts through the canopy above.
As the wind shifts and the trees sway heavy

The minutia of sound.

Double-back or----- continue
Through a hollow in the brush and
Across a ridge, no a sloping escarpment.

A fine mist hangs precariously low in a clearing be low, within/beyond the garden walls over which the wild grape runs riot; its fruit ripened by an early frost.
Along its reach, a valley of wildflower enclosed by a line of cypress.
Its stillness reigns over this majestic cacophony of color and vine.
It was mid-winter, and terribly cold, when the soldiers arrived at the gate. The gardener gave permission to cut down wood and not even to spare the best cedar or cypress. But the men could not bring themselves to fell these trees of which the size and beauty they so admired. Thereupon the gardener himself seized an axe, and cut down the tree that he thought the largest and loveliest, and the soldiers were no longer afraid to use the trunks that they needed, and to kindle the fires so they might endure the night.

Moving on,
The path attenuates, the forest closing in, the light grows dim and the air feels thin.
All manner of wild creatures rustle unseen in the surrounding depths.
Covert. Unthreatening.

A little light now up ahead, a shallow egress in the thicket…
Dog hair on the pillow,
sand in the bed…
softly lie to the moonbeam overhead.

Leif Huron. 2010

1 comment:

  1. Leif, it's a beautiful piece. I'm not sure though that Foucault's concept would occur to me as a reference point, except in this sense: art itself is an exemplary instance of a "heterotopia" as you describe it: "a space of otherness, neither here nor there, both physical and mental." Art itself exists in our everyday world but, like Foucault's mirror example, reflects back this world in an inverted form, reality from a reverse angle. It is both "mythical" and a "real contestation of the space in which we live." It is not a non-place, like utopia, but an actual space with a hidden reserve, with non-exhausted potential. A heterotopia proliferates spaces, it reveals the heterogeneity of space. This is something your work does so well: it introduces the viewer to "other spaces" in this one that we call our own.