Monday, March 17, 2014

read these roads and see the water flow...

read these roads. Kai Lossgott. 2010. Experimental Film.

This morning, artist Janet Ranson sent me a link to Kai Lossgott's video 'read these roads', and watching it I am feeling a spark of new inspiration for my own artmaking. Drinking in the words, lapping up the visually intriguing water patterns and shapes that evaporates along with each syllable and nuance of Kai's voice, I am taken to the streets of Cape Town, where Camissa is rushing, wasted, to the sea. The griminess of the tarred roads seem in direct contrast for me to the gentle liquid state of the water. Here's the synopsis for the video:

Fresh water, one of South Africa's scarcest resources, is currently in drastic decline due to climate changes and pollution.  In 2008, a top WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) official called the SA water crisis "a ticking time bomb" waiting to explode. 
The soundtrack of the video is taken from Adderley Street in the Cape Town CBD, above the underground storm water drain where, since 1957, 3 million cubic tons of untapped fresh spring water has run into the sea daily. Underfoot, the now forgotten Varsterivier, among others, is a seminal unacknowledged site of national heritage, one of the rivers which gave Cape Town its original Khoi name: "Camissa", meaning "place of sweet waters".  This was the fresh water that originally drew Portuguese explorers to stop at the Cape on their journey to India, and set in motion the colonisation of the region and the conflicts that followed. 
Natural time versus city time is emphasized in this stop frame animation, intended as a projection on the floor.  Water dries in time lapse photography on the pavement.  Running in and out of drains and gutters, it spreads into tentative images, which evaporate as they morph into other shapes.  These forms hint at the living systemic relationship between Table Mountain's hydrology systems, the City of Cape Town's water system and the biological systems of the human body.  In contrast with the evaporation (a metaphor for both waste and scarcity), a mysterious tunnel world of abundant water is periodically glimpsed beneath the streets.  With many of our rivers now being the equivalent of drains, re-claiming the symbolic power of the river under Adderley Street confronts us with an emotional connection we have lost.  This is the link to life-centred awareness, currently the most critical challenge to Western culture, with its legacy of human-centredness. "read these roads" is a video poem of unfulfilled desire for a personal relationship with the natural world.  
In association with Reclaim Camissa -
For more visual art and poetry by Kai Lossgott, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment