Ottawa artist Cheryl Pagurek specializes in video installations and photography. Here we’re fortunate to have a sneak peek at stills from her newest piece of work, Wave Patterns, a video that will be exhibited this coming January. Cheryl creates a matrix of twelve video channels where water flows at its most abstract to a contrasting soundtrack of construction noise.
Why water? What was the attraction? I remember you taking photos at the cottage last year, of the ripples; I think you had something in mind then, was this it?
The interest in working with water imagery like this was a result of the Currents public art commission at Market Place. When I was capturing water video imagery of the Jock River for that, and when I was editing together the clips, I was most interested in the treatment that verged on abstraction, both in the closeup views of the water with none of the usual landscape references (such as a long view with a horizon) and also in the editing process where I arranged multiple views across the screen.
Because it was a public art piece I was aware that I needed to give people some more
conventional entry points, like shots of conventional landscape scenes, but then I wanted to take the imagery elsewhere, like into abstraction and multiplicity. The entry video to my website is an example of one of my favourite parts.
After that was done I wanted to work on a project both in photography and in video where instead of layering imagery on top of each other like I had done in many previous series of works, I would work with side-by-side arrangements of imagery so that the relationships between images would be “across” as opposed to “through” each other. I decided I would use a grid structure for that and that’s where Wave Patterns […] came from. When I was taking photos at your cottage, it was this grid structure project I was thinking of. It turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined and I ended up only making the one photo piece like that, using images from the Ottawa area.
The idea for the sound for the Wave Patterns video came from a couple of
things. I wanted to use sound in an abstract way, the same way I was using the water clips to build up something that was more than the individual videos themselves. Also, when I was videotaping the Jock River, I noticed many times that I could be right down at the water’s edge, totally surrounded in the sights and sounds of the natural environment, yet also be hearing construction sounds in the not too far distance. So that idea of encroachment, of the urban/rural, nature/culture spaces abutted right up against each other came into play as well.
In the opening paragraph of [my artist’s] statement, talking in general about the use of water imagery, I wrote that many of my works “present the passage of time as being embodied in the flow of water; water imagery encapsulates the idea of continual change”. That probably answers your question about ‘why water?’ more succinctly!