the beginning of the middle of the end

Process Still from 'The Beginning of the Middle of the End' (2016). 

Process Still from 'The Beginning of the Middle of the End' (2016). 

Some say the “end” is nigh. Sixteen years into the twenty-first century one can’t help but acknowledge the way in which end-of-the-world narratives have permeated the popular imaginary. In online spheres, news feeds are plastered with signs of the coming apocalypse: warnings of cataclysmic climate changes, planetary temperature ascension, and the depletion of global water sources, surge in tandem with cautionary tales of continued financial crises, the dissolution and privatisation of social welfare services, and a growing sense of precarity in relation to the future of work. Likewise, in popular culture, the anxieties produced by our precarious present are brought to the forefront through a myriad of cinematic descriptions of how this world will come to die.

For me, however, this “end” (that is, the “end” of the world as we know it) is not the primary concern. The Earth, after all, is not “ours” to save. Indeed, if human life were to end, the Earth would continue spinning, moving through time and space, indifferent to our all-too-human needs, hopes, and desires. The “end”, in fact, may come as a welcome reprieve to the daily exploitation, suffering and violence that seems to increasingly define human life on this planet. My interest is not how we might live, given the impending end-of-a-world, but rather, how we might die? The Beginning of the Middle of the End, takes this question as its starting point.

The Beginning of the Middle of the End, is a multi-channel video projection that combines and amplifies the affective experience of living amidst the exhausting movements, precarious flows, and suffocating postures of contemporary society. The video assemblage combines short clips, meticulously scavenged from a variety of films and television programs, that work to reflect and reproduce the anxiety inherent within a contemporary society driven by unrelenting competition, stifling subjective positions, and a broken relationship to the Earth. 

Each film clip highlights those cinematic moments where things take a turn towards the unknown - the beginning of the middle of the end - but are nevertheless recuperated by filmic tropes in order to cue the audience of what is to come: that moment of tension before the car crashes; that moment when the threshold of life and death is broken in a drowning scene; that moment the camera slowly gazes on a door that we all know should not be opened. The video combines, cuts, repeats, and emphasizes these cinematic cliches, using glitched reproductions and disorienting juxtapositions, in order to produce an overall immersive experience that is at the same time comfortably familiar and disturbingly alien. Synced with a soundscape of cinematic sampled sounds that oscillate between certainty, suspense, and confusion, this audio-visual experiment aims to draw attention to the “end” by focusing on the everyday and seemingly ordinary intensive productions that now characterize contemporary existence on this planet we call home. 

This project was presented as part of the visual arts programming at Sled Island 2016 (Calgary, Alberta).