Stan Douglas

Vancouver Canada 1960, lives and works in Vancouver

Since the late eighties Douglas has been exploring audiovisual media, from photography, panorama and silent film to television and video. Film is a particular fascination of his. In Overture, from 1986, a train goes in and out of tunnels in the Rocky Mountains. At least that is the way it looks: actually Douglas took some fragments of silent film from the archives of the Edison Company and edited them together as a loop. Another exciting aspect is that, because the camera was placed on the locomotive, the viewer has the sensation of being the train’s engineer and becomes engrossed in the rhythm of the film. In the background one can hear bits of text based on Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu, a narrative in which past and present mingle just as in the work by Douglas. With respect to the blending of reality and imagination, Overture can, in a certain sense, be compared to Evening, though it gives rise to a hypnotic effect that reveals the borderline between fact and fiction rather than denouncing it.

Over the years, Douglas’s work has become increasingly complex. With the aid of a computer, the various media, past and present, image and sound, become more and more blended. Take Der Sandmann (1995), based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’ story, which takes place in a Potsdam allotment garden. The images of the garden are accompanied by a reading from correspondence between a certain Nathael and his childhood friend Lothar. The boys used to regard a certain older man as the ‘Sandman’ – to them, a malicious man who threw sand in the eyes of children if they would lie awake at night. In the studio Douglas created a replica of the garden two times: one time as being before and another as being after the reunification of Germany. As such, the memories of Nathael and Lothar are evoked against the background of two Germanies. In this work Douglas creates a network of histories, not only of past and present but also of fiction and reality, of personal remembrance and historical survey.