British artist Graham Gussin (b. 1960, London) creates visual and sound-based works that examine our perception of the real and its relationship to imagined experience. His use of digital media simultaneously invokes Romantic landscape painting and science-fiction films. Gussin takes from each the aesthetic of ideal, surreal, or constructed landscapes, as well as the ability to disorient time and place.
The installation Fall (7,200-1) (1996-2000) is a filmed image of a lake, projected large-scale in the gallery. The sound of wind crossing the surface of water induces an almost unnatural sense of calm. At odds with the pace of life in New York City, Fall requires viewers to slow down and contemplate the question of what is real and what is simulated in the work. The piece directly refers to the moment in Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, when a space traveler-played by David Bowie-crashes spectacularly into a lake. For Fall, Gussin has digitally created a “splash” but yields control of its timing to the random generation of digits by a computer that is part of the installation. The program is set to give us an only 1-in-7,200 chance of witnessing the event-signified on the computer screen by the appearance of the digit “1” in a stream of zeros.
On average, the splash will happen once every two hours. This fact arouses a sense of expectation in the viewer-it could occur at any second while we are there, but it may not happen at all if we do not spend time waiting for it. For those who do not see the “fall”, the experience increasingly resides in the imagination. As we wait, our eyes glued to the image of the lake, we find ourselves superimposing what we think the event might look like-it becomes a “state of mind” rather than an actuality.
Beginning and Ending at the Same Time (Horizontal Movie) (2001) is a new video, specially created for the New Museum, that plays with our desire to locate ourselves in a place, providing tantalizing glimpses of urban and rural landscapes in Iceland, France, Britain, South Korea, Spain and the United States. Like a series of movie “establishing shots”, these ten-second glimpses move from wide angle to zoom, offering a way in, and then cutting it off. Without subsequent narratives to fulfill the expectations generated by these shots, the video becomes a disorienting series of expanding and contracting spaces that dissolve on either side of us.
Gussin’s work has recently been shown at Tate Britain, London; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark; and media_city seoul 2000, South Korea.