DIY: The Engaged Video Body; video exhibition; three-channel video installation, Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo BC, 2010.
Part 1: I’m lying facedown over a mound of dirt in a backyard, reading and old ‘do-it-yourself’ book. It’s a hot summer day and the ambient sound is of construction noise, fading to birds chirping, children calling and a lawnmower running. I have become a non-participant in the role of do-it-yourselfer. The tools and dirt pile indicate that there is some kind of project in the vicinity, whether as a potentiality or in an ongoing state. I seemed to have abandoned the actual physical activity in favour of reading about the possibilities of the project, conceptualizing it in the realm of ideas. Or perhaps just napping.
Part 2: I am in my shared workshop, about to begin a project. But first I have to put things away, clean up. Tools and materials are scattered all over the workbenches. There’s stuff everywhere and I have to figure out where it came from and where it all belongs. I’m doing it myself. I’m picking up and putting down, reaching and turning, hesitating and lurching forward. It’s a circular, ongoing dance. All my time is spent engaged in the physical activity of cleaning up and I never get to my project.
Part 3: Then again, my head appears as a projection in which I am reading aloud the index section of a book titled ‘How to Fix Damn Near Anything’. It seems that my ideas need to germinate in my head, often originating in unlikely places before sparking my actions.
An artist’s practice is mostly a case of DIY as well. In that context, the actual physical activity can include the learning process, the potential disaster, the chore, the statement of independence as it does for the do-it-yourselfer, but also include playfulness, persistence and the creation of something for which no previous plans or instructions existed.
DIY was exhibited as a three-channel video installation. Part1 was screened on a small, portable DVD player, placed on the gallery floor in a partially finished plywood cube. Viewers were invited to lie down on an air mattress and put on headphones to view (and hear) it. Part 2 was screened at eye level on a monitor placed on a red metal tool chest. Part 3 was projected at small scale on the ceiling.