Processes of Alignment / by Caitlin Chaisson

We woke up early and saw the sun rise the first time. We taped a cardboard box shut, and cut-out a large hole so the box could be placed over our heads. A pin prick in the opposite corner was all that was needed for the sun to pass through. We got in the truck and drove to the harbour where the tide was nearly all the way out. We were not sure what we would see, or what we might feel. As the solar eclipse began, we started and stopped a number of performed actions. Every fifteen minutes we would be interrupted by the urge to look in our DIY pinhole camera and see how much the positions of the sun and the moon had changed. The light around us was altered with an almost metallic hue, and we witnessed the shadows being cast with uncertainty. For a moment, it got colder, as the moon began to cover ninety percent of the sun. Hardly a cloud was in the sky. The chilly air of dusk swept through the harbour in the middle of a balmy morning. 

Salt Spring Island was not on the path of totality, but very nearby to Victoria, BC which was identified as the best city to view the eclipse within Canada. The three-ferry sailing wait to get to Victoria at the start of the eclipse weekend was possibly a result of this small migration of enthusiasts. A nearly ideal spot to view the celestial phenomena, Salt Spring also presented an opportunity to think about the relationship between the island and the mainland, between central and peripheral places of being. If a cosmic shift in positions was possible, could we be encouraged to think about these earthbound geographies in more flexible terms? 

The diverse landscapes of the Island had a major influence on the development of the artwork for Inside the Day was Night. The environmental conditions guided much of our behaviour and actions throughout the project. We waited patiently for tides to either recede or approach. We had to hold tightly to sculptures as the wind transformed them into sails. We followed shadows as they stretched and contracted. We let currents float artworks away from us, and then swam out, or clambered over jagged rocks to retrieve them. While our own movements involved passing, crossing, handing, and following, the forces of the landscape contributed movements of submerging, covering, shifting, and engulfing. We placed our bodies in, or out, of alignment with the world around us. 

Inside the Day was Night . 2017. Work in progress. Experimenting with materials on the surface of the water.

Inside the Day was Night. 2017. Work in progress. Experimenting with materials on the surface of the water.

The artwork emerged out of a process-based approach. Working with many variables and changing conditions, the work was more about anticipating and responding. It was not clear how certain materials would react in the landscapes, how certain positions would appear at a distance, or how layering would alter objects, bodies and spaces. A quality of unknowingness is present throughout all of the artworks, but taken together, they express a certain composite experience about the landscape and our positions within it. 

Inside the Day was Night. 2017. Work in progressAn early test of some movements with the sculptures through through the landscape.