Meredith James

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The Invention of Morel Pages 86-91

The above video stills are from Meredith James' new video installation, The Creation of Morel Pages 86-91, being shown in the project space for December 11 - January 15, 2010. James' work often points out the maleabiltity of real environments using constructed sets. The nature of these sets is rooted in a tradition of pataphysics, wherein she turns hypothetical linguistic situations such as "a room where there is no up or down" and applies them to the formation of an architecture. In doing this she quite completely tricks us, and forces us to question the conventions of our own sight and interpretation of the world.

The video presented here is based on a scene from Adolfo Bioy Casares’ science fiction novel, “The Invention of Morel.” The book follows a fugitive who escapes to an island occupied only by an abandoned museum. A few days after his arrival, a group of people appear, dressed in clothing from another era and the museum itself is restored to its former glory. After close observation he speculates that the island must be inhabited by a tactile projection of the past that repeats on a weekly cycle. In this scene, the protagonist has found a room in the basement entirely enclosed by walls with no point of entry. He breaks his way through a wall and into the room with an iron bar and finds the interior covered with blue tile- all the way up to the skylight on top. The room houses a machine that seems to dictate the mysterious happenings on the island. As he studies this machine, it kicks into life and the hole through which the protagonist entered seems to miraculously heal, leaving him trapped within. He picks up the iron bar and smashes away at the walls and, while blue tiles fall all around, the walls remain completely intact.

James filmed two videos of the room that match shot for shot and, when projected simultaneously, the two sets of footage interact as one reality for the bearded protagonist.

From Casares' novel,

“These walls… are projections of the machines. They coincide with the walls made by the masons (they are the same walls taken by the machines and then projected on themselves.) when I have broken or removed the first wall, the projected one remains. Since it is a projection nothing can pierce or eliminate it as long as the motors are running.”

As in much of James' work, the character at the center of the action is faced with a suspicious world, one which is as foreign to her as the character herself is to us. The language is taken out of the real world, and transformed to an extended imaginary world. At this point the door is closed, and the character is forced to live out the logic of his sentence.