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Ascension/Immersion, 2009

Mary Coble and Blithe Riley, viagra 2009
2 channel looping video installation
(please view at full screen)

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A performer travels between two states, one interior and one exterior. There is no goal or destination. Instead the figure engages in a process of ascension and immersion, repeated through the structure of the loop. The timing of this process is fragmented by two screens, in which the same action is simultaneously experienced at different moments in time. This oscillation allows for a conversation to happen between the details of gestures and their place in the past/present/future. Moments of pause and disappearance act as potential energy, inviting the viewer to contemplate the motive or emotional impulse of the figure.

These moments also take on the possibility of meaning— such as that of release, escape, awakening, hesitation, revelation— but are not actualized with a supporting action. The physical and mental “between spaces” that the viewer experiences, are zones where permutations are favored over beginnings and endings.


The piece was made at an abandoned spring house in the woods of Maine that was once used to transfer fresh cool water to a local farm. Once it ceased to be functional, the structure was neglected, sank partially into the earth and fell into decay. However, the natural spring water still flowed into a pool at the base of the house and soaked the surrounding ground. To enter the house meant stepping into a 5-foot drop off of water to reach a mud-bottom floor littered with debris.

The decision not to reveal the full image of the spring house, was a motivated by the desire to remove the space from narrative and mythological connotations. The interior space cannot be read as a specific location, creating an ambiguity that compliments the notion of endless travel, and the lack of a motivating cause for the figure.

Part of the transformation of this site involved turning the spring house into a platform for performance. In order to do this, two large holes were cut in the roof, which allowed the figure to enter and exit from above. The new access points were then sculpted and sanded to make them seem like native elements of the structure.

The videography required creating a rig along the original entry way of the house, so that the camera could sit on top of the water and be at the same level as the figure crossing the frame. Power sources were brought in for lights and additional tools.

Creative Commons License
Untitled #1, Ascension/Immersion by Blithe Riley & Mary Coble is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Posted: January 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments » -->