Camera Opera : [Video installation]
School of Creative Arts
Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Research Institute
Art and Design
Research into Practice
The research output “Camera Opera” consists of a 2-channel video installation work, including a lighting set-up, flat screen monitors and speakers on tripods, that is reminiscent of a television studio set-up. It is filmed on the set of Das Duell, a German current affairs television program with the collaboration of the studio’s production team. “Camera Opera” renders the mechanisms of filmic, news-like delivery bare, confronting us with the fictional mise-en-scène through which we access ‘reality’. Highly codified cinematographic techniques conflate the lens of the camera and the eye of the viewer producing an overwhelming sense of the camera as subject. This positions the viewer as an active participant in the production of meanings across an event that is recognized as representation but also shapes our understanding of contemporary social reality. “Camera Opera” reverses the role of the cameras in conventional news broadcasting: they become the subject and the performance of filming becomes the action. I direct five camera operators through a series of choreographed movements around the silent figure of the anchorwoman. The operators circle around the studio, focus on the anchorwoman and pan out to expose the set, equipment, lighting, audience seating and each-other. The performance is set to Strauss waltzes that were piped into the studio to guide the camera operators' movements and later edited in sync with the image to form the final two-screen film. What we see is how the space of the studio is organized through and by camera views, and how the set may become a performance space based on a series of codified relations. Engaging the Brechtian techniques of alienation, the cameras turn on themselves, denying their traditional role of relaying information and exposing their participation in the manipulation of what the viewer is presented with. “Camera Opera” was commissioned by Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal with further funding from the Canada Council for the Arts.