by Peter Courtemanche
"Cadillac Desert" is a book refered to by Howard V. Hendrix in a story called "The Music of What Happens". In the book within a book, the protagonist is a park superintendent who wants to photograph Yosemite park in minute detail, publish the photographs all over the United States, and then (with the beauty duly recorded/documented) build a dam and flood the valley for a massive irrigation project. This idea returns with Hendrix's character - a billionaire who buys Yosemite park and hires a leading media artist of the day to record it using virtual reality technology.
"Cadillac Desert" deals with the idea of the capitalist who catalogues (or "makes virtual") the beauty of the wilderness shortly before destroying it for commercial gain. It questions the role of media in providing an excuse for ignoring our physical surroundings. Once an environment has been copied into the virtual domain, Man's sense of responsibility for the physical starts to falter.
As an installation piece, "Cadillac Desert", provides a platform for artists to stream and exchange sound and image over the Internet. The focus of the work is a real space - a gallery - in which a virtual world of projections and sound exists.
The piece refers to the virtual, ideas of public versus private, and their the connection to the physical places from which the electronic content is derived. Inside the installation, the viewer moves within a rendition of the artist's house. This house is idealized and extended into the electronic domain. Within the walls, windows, and other spaces of the structure there are places where the outside world enters - in the form of netcast images and sounds from remote locations.
The streams that arrive at the installation site are merged within the house and sent back to their origin. The viewer is able to see the difference between the immediate on-site environment and the remote content. There is a sense of exchange and communication between nodes in the network.
The "Cadillac Desert" installation will be fed by the streams of the ".. devolve into II .." participants.
(Peter Courtemanche - September 2001)
lives in Vancouver, Canada. He is a curator and audio artist who works with radio and installation. His works often have a literary basis - inspired by narrative texts and the history of specific installation sites.
Recent works include:
Slowing Down Radiation (by Peter Courtemanche, 2000) - a sound sculpture exploring 'fantasical' musical instruments as described by writers at the end of the 19th Century.
Divining for Lost Sound (in collaboration with Lori Weidenhammer, 1996) - an outdoor interactive installation that invites the listener to locate sound that is buried under the earth. The interface is a divining rod with headphones attached.