Monday, 26 November 2012

Rodney Graham - Halcion Sleep

Rodney Graham (born January 16, 1949) is an artist and musician born in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He is most often associated with the Vancouver School. He is married to the artist Shannon Oksanen and lives in Vancouver.

The artist Rodney Graham, wearing his pyjamas, is filmed in blue nocturnal light, knocked out by a sleeping draught called halcyon. Comatose in the back of a car, he has been taken from his motel bed and driven around Vancouver, the traffic and city lights flaring over his recumbent form. Attracted by the word halcyon, and remembering the childhood experience of being driven home after an exciting day, Graham not only recreates a memory of his youth, but shows us a man in the cinema of his dreams.
Adrian Searle

The metaphor is The Trip. In Halcion Sleep (1994), Rodney Graham’s new black and white video, the artist is seen dressed in stylishly striped satin pyjamas, sleeping deeply and blissfully laid out on the back seat of a mini-van. Through the soft glow of the rain-traced rear window, we can follow the path of the van as it travels endlessly down the avenues of Graham’s hometown. At face value, the chain of events seems uncomplicated: Graham downed a heavy dosage of the sleeping agent Halcion and, once under its spell, was transported from a motel on the outskirts of town to his home in the centre of the city. The continuous video loop was shot in a single take. The heaving of his limp body in and out of the mini-van (the trip’s beginning and end) are not included in the action; ‘travelling from the outer limits to the centre’ is the heart of this event.

Perhaps Graham is gesturing toward an enlargement of Breton’s famous proclamation: ‘I believe in the future resolution of the states of dream and reality, in appearance so contradictory, in a sort of absolute reality, or surréalité, if I may so call it’. But how we think about ‘absolute reality’ has become more complicated, and the stakes are higher than Breton could ever have envisioned. Graham no longer points to Breton’s resolution of dream and reality, instead he is that resolution. Sleeping under the effects of the drug, Graham gently bobs on the van’s back seat wearing the Halcion daze. The look on his face naturally makes you feel a tinge of envy. The artist is someone transported somewhere else, to a place remote in time and place. From where we stand on the outskirts, he appears to journey toward his self’s centre. True, he has given up his faculties, but given them up to a different, otherwise unavailable set. The relationship of artist to audience is made perfectly clear: the softly effulgent rear window hovers above Graham’s head as would a thought balloon in a cartoon. Only Graham can ‘see’ where he is going, leaving us in the realm of hand-me-down experiences, staring into the silently glowing waves of passing lights and attempting to reconstruct where he has been.
Ronald Jones

halcion sleep (1994/2012) from clint enns on Vimeo.

video made for my augmented reality assignment in "future cinema II" at york university.
augmented reality is used to enhance conceptual artist rodney graham's 1994 seminal work halcion sleep.
clint enns 

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