The Paradise Institute

October 20, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Literature & Writing

The Paradise Institute

Power Plant
September 21 to November 17, 2002

Curated by:
Philip Monk

Featuring work by:
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

From The Paradise Institute artist catalogue

Art galleries are the last place that I would have expected to feel like I just stepped off a roller coaster but Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have truly engineered an installation ride of hyper-realism that's just as thrilling as being in an amusement park.

Cardiff and Miller have collaborated many times in the past and this time they bring us The Paradise Institute -- a specially built mini-movie theatre of wood, real theatre seats and faked theatre space. Headphones are used and moving images are displayed on a screen much smaller than what would appear in an actual movie house.

At this point, I would like to state that mere words are futile in describing the complexity of this installation, nor can words do justice for this piece.

The sound production quality experienced in Cardiff and Miller's theatre of illusion make it impossible to describe how easy it was to believe that someone was whispering in your ear, that someone was undressing right behind you, or that a mob of people outside the theatre installation were banging on the walls.

Janet Cardiff is quite well known for her audio walks so the attention to detail in The Paradise Institute's audio shouldn't come as any surprise. Quite possibly I could go on for ages about the sound but let us not forget about the 'theatre' concept of the installation. It was very interesting how the visuals played with -- and against -- the audio. The 'film' being shown was fragmented in a Cubist way while the audio narrative stayed more or less linear.

The most intriguing part about The Paradise Institute is when the on-screen fiction mixes with the off-screen fiction. It felt analogous to when I watch movies and, in my head, I project my own director's cut onto the screen. It also works the other way around, such as when you need that break from mundane life so you daydream about being a fictional character in the last movie you saw. (Yes, I'll admit it: I think having spidy-powers would be cool.)

Interior view of The Paradise Institute

More reading: Atom Egoyan interview with Janet Cardiff

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