Earth Artist's website.
The Familiarities of Dislocation
“I understand the landscape to be a dominant aspect in the reconnection of lost memory; a place where if one pays close enough attention, may be able to regain the memories the land has graciously stored” states British female video artist, Julia Abraham. Abraham’s aim (as her personal website tells us) in her creation of art revolves around the experience of recalling memory and interacting with the physicality of the land—locations that are familiar to her and hold memory. Abraham is fascinated with the abstract nature of memory collided with the tangible earth. Abraham graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelors in Fine Art History and Visual Studies. As her personal statement on her website states, she is an artist, curator and academic researcher who “examines memory and spaces through a methodology of spatial theory and phenomenology” (Abraham).
Throughout her video work, she creates numerous short films that are very blurred in color and confusion. Though one may be able to point out the nature around her (usually a field with dead trees of sorts) as well as the figure of a person, the distortion of the video reigns. Abraham may be symbolizing the confusion between the natural and abstract world our lives revolve around. I was intrigued by her new media work because it is not something that is directly involved with “earth art or digital earth art,” rather the concept of location is what motivates her video artwork. Abraham has a series of videos found on her website that revolve around this fascination.
In her film Entropic Landscape (2008), Abraham distorts the image so much to where the viewer is constantly trying to make out familiar shapes and figures in the film. The soundtrack of the video consists of bits of natural sounds with chaotic, high-pitched, echoey technological reverberations, thus creating a tense, irritating and suffocating environment. I caught myself squinting at the screen in trying to make out what I was watching as well as struggle to hear the different noises she literally collides in her video. Entropy is the scientific term in physics to describe randomness and disorder. Figuratively, Abraham uses this definition in order to encapsulate her feelings of dislocation between the memory of the world around her and the confusion we often experience in our daily lives.
Thematically, I took Entropic Landscape, to be representative and symbolic of the interactions between humans and the natural world around us. Throughout the video, the viewer gets slight and short glimpses of a familiar, natural world, and then the camera goes back into chaos and distortion juxtaposing these two unfamiliar and familiar worlds humans exist in. We also gets slight glimpses of a figure, but we cannot be sure if it is there or not. The abstract is as much familiar to us as reality is; paradoxically, this symbolizes the human emphasis on the importance of location. We use location as a signifier to define the world around us; in order to make sense of the world, and ourselves. Abraham states about this film, “This engagement with the land takes the form of a performance where I go to a specific location that symbolizes memory and present a proposition through a bodily engagement to pull out the entrenched memories from within it. By revisiting aspects of the memory that are still present in my mind and re-immersing myself in a sensory remembrance, I experience a merging and reconnection of the empty areas. The performance takes the form of a dance, where as I perform the memory, the land becomes my relational partner. The land dually takes on the position of spectator and participant, as I attempt to lure my memories from it. The work will exist as photographic documentation of my performance in the landscape.”