Small Spectacle about Encountering

Immersive video installation. Edition 2
Computer-controlled one-channel video, stereo sound, chair, semi-transparent mirror and projection surface, surrounding space.
Duration 9 minutes, 2005.


Collection of Saastamoinen Foundation

A semitransparent mirror is located between a chair and a video projection wall. The video shows the same chair (opposite), with the same surrounding space. The spectator sits down on the chair and notices, while seated, that the reflection of his chair and its surroundings overlap and match perfectly with the video image. The impression is simultaneously two- and three-dimensional, and the sensation of space becomes strange, confused and delusive.

After a short while the spectator hears steps. A man appears in the video and sits down on the chair, “opposite” the spectator. The man’s figure, his body, his hands, his face, merges perfectly with the spectator’s reflection. The features of this new hybrid figure are bewildering – the spectator recognizes in them partly him/herself and partly a stranger. Identities melt when identification is hampered.

The sitting figure in the video starts to talk. The monologue depicts a person who is mentally completely absent: the narrator examines their relationship, unavoidable distance, and portrays his wonder of confronting (or the impossibility of confronting) this person. Through the narrative, the identities of both the narrator and the person he is referring to become questionable. It is a strong and psychologically thorough-going story, where internality and externality become intertwined. Towards its thickening end, the 9-minute monologue winds back to the words in the beginning of the story: “...I was there, not in order to see him, but so that he wouldn’t see himself, so that it would be me he saw in the mirror, someone other than him – another, a stranger, nearby, gone, the shadow of the other shore, no one…” In some parts the story points at the spectator, but the ultimate question – whose story is this? – is intentionally left open. On one hand, it could be the spectator, and on the other, it could be the narrator himself, or somebody else.

Only one spectator can view the work at a time. The narrated text is composed of quotations from Maurice Blanchot’s book The Last Man.

Small Spectacle about Encountering – structure of the installation