So last week, we accepted an invitation to the “Cast and Crew” screening of artist Daniel Cockburn’s debut feature film, You Are Here at the Royal cinema in Toronto.
Cockburn has, since about 2000, been at the top of VoCA’s list of ‘Most Promising Young Artists.’ He works in video, with an occasional – excellent – foray into performance. In 2007, he also made a conceptual book work, Visible Vocals. Find it HERE.
In 2003, his excellent video Metronome, was featured in a screening I curated in London UK, where it was well received.
You Are Here is a highly ambitious project, clearly the result of a ‘go-big-or-go-home’ mentality, which we do admire. It’s ambitious, though, and perhaps suffers a little for this. It feels a bit Matthew Barney-esque, and, like Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, it’s like a puzzle for very smart people – a good film, but it takes some thought to figure out what it was actually about.
It was, to us, a commentary on the existential notion of Self-ness, or ‘who am I?’ The film is made up of six parts, each one of which seems somewhat incomplete, but together they add up to this existential question.
Here’s VoCA’s take:
Part One refers to Alan, who is in fact, many people, and represents Mankind, moving through the city. The camerawork is lovely.
Part Two is the Archivist, the easiest narrative to follow, who finds and archives old pieces of video or audiotape on the street. She represents Memory.
Part Three are the Cartographers, a sort of bizarro taxi cab dispatch office, who represent Destiny, or perhaps Fate.
Part Four is the Wave Collector, a middle-aged professor whose dialogue urges viewers to focus on an image of waves on a screen, or the red dot pointing at the waves. He represents Consciousness.
Part Five is the Experimenter, whose fascinating experiment places himself – amazingly – inside the brain. He represents Thought.
Part Six is the Inventor of a prosthetic eye, who, to say the least, was a bit limited. We didn’t quite get it…Schadenfreude, perhaps?
You Are Here’s outline is much more specific, naturally but it sums up the film as “part science fiction, part meta-narrative, part philosophical slapstick….it’s a humourous riff on existential questions, one that will leave audiences sorting out the connections and coming up with hypotheses long after the movie has ended.”
That seems to be pretty spot on.