lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art

Fall – artist’s statement

Fall is a video and audio installation consisting of two video projections and sound spatialized amongst eight speakers. The images and sounds are of waterfalls in the North Niagara watershed that are part of the system of creeks named by numbers.  These numbers represent the measurement in miles of the mouths of the creeks from the mouth of the Niagara River. The Niagara region is associated throughout the world with Niagara Falls but the many smaller waterfalls are known only to locals, hikers of the Bruce Trail and Niagara Escarpment.

 The waterfalls in Fall are Swayze Falls which is on a tributary of the Twelve Mile Creek, Rockway Falls on the Fifteen Mile Creek, Louth Falls on the Sixteen Mile Creek, Upper Balls Falls and Lower Balls Falls on the Twenty Mile Creek and Beamer Falls on the Forty Mile Creek.  These falls are publicly-owned either by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority or Ontario Provincial Parks.

 In the video projection on the south wall, two minutes of footage of each falls is separated with a numeral identifying its creek. In the other video projection, footage from the first is edited in short clips based on the relevant number. The act of measurement by European settlers in Niagara that led to the naming of the creeks, and therefore our cultural geography, becomes the device for visually shaping the video.

 The sound of the installation is the sound of the south wall video as recorded on site. You will notice that the sound is not what you will hear on relaxation tapes and that the artist has not edited out the sounds of airplanes and voices. The sound is spatialized and moves around the gallery through eight speakers.

 Waterfalls are associated in the popular imagination both with elemental force and power as well as meditative tranquility – they have been harnessed for power for water wheels and hydroelectricity and served as calendar nature art. In Fall, the artist uses the sound and images of these waterfalls to ask questions about our relationship with nature.

 Elizabeth Chitty was born in Niagara, has lived most of her life here and is working from a deeply-felt sense of place and appreciation of the natural beauty of our region. The work has its origins in her love of the sheer emotional power of waterfalls, most of which she discovered – as you may have – while walking. Through the electronic media she uses and her artistic choices, her work is equally grounded in technology. Modernism approached nature and technology as opposing forces – “either/or” – and the environmental degradation we face is a product of that ideological construct. Fall is an expression of “both/and”, which is language of post-modernist discourse influenced by feminism, and which the artist believes is the only way forward in the decisions we must make about how we live on our planet.

 Elizabeth Chitty is an interdisciplinary artist who makes performances, installations and constructed photographs. Her outdoor photo and audio exhbition, Fly, was exhibited at Grimsby Public Art Gallery this fall and featured the image and sound of a red-tailed hawk. In October she exhibited photo-based work on sidewalks at the 3rd annual James St. Night of Art presented by the St. Catharines and Area Arts Council and in August she performed at Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre as part of their anniversary exhibition, Bureau de Change. Her work is in the National Gallery of Canada’s touring exhibiton, Art Metropole: The Top 100, which makes a stop in Toronto at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) this November.

 The artist wishes to thank Darren Copeland for the spatialization and Charles St. Video for mobile equipment and post-production. Thanks also to Ross Turnbull, Matt Harley and many thanks to Grimsby Public Art Gallery. This exhibition was supported by an Exhibitions Assistance grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

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