Definition of a Fugue
In music, by definition, a fugue is a contrapuntal composition in two or more voices, built on a subject (theme) that is introduced at the beginning and recurs frequently in the course of the composition. In its most general aspect, counterpoint or contrapuntal music involves the writing of musical lines that sound very different and move independently from each other, but sound harmonious when played simultaneously.
RIVER FUGUES are a series of individually unique projects exploring the interdependency of people, industry and rivers. All River Fugues entail regional research, recording images and narratives with video and audio which are later edited into fugues and integrated into sculptural installations. My reason for using the fugue is because of its flexibility as a conceptual framework which can be applied to any set of components one is trying to integrate, be they sounds, voices, narratives or images.
My research/ video road trips follow rivers tracing memories and loss in the landscapes they cut through. They are landscapes of haunting histories filled with conflicting memories of hope, beauty, violence, destruction and loss. While the initial process for gathering materials parallels that of a documentary filmmaker, the videos upon completion do not follow a linear descriptive narrative. Instead my mentors are found in composers and poets. Of particular significance are Glen Gould and his narrative fugue, The Idea of the North, along with Anne Carson and her prose poem, The Anthropology of Water. Just as both artists stretch the boundaries of language and music, both artists challenge my own thinking as I seek to explore visual parallels in the development of my River Fugues.
In Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, he spoke of a memorable photograph as having the quality of “punctum”, that is, the ability to pierce. As an artist, I strive to create work that pierces, is memorable, as well as intellectually and visually provocative. Often poignant elegies, these works reflect the complex and changing relationship of a society to its industries and rivers, and strive to be a contributing artistic voice in a larger conversation addressing issues related to water.