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“Intermission” the Exhibition by Canadian Centre for Architecture Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 9th, 2021

Background information about the exhibition

A Man and Space, a Man and Future, a Man and Universe. These topics can be found in all kinds of contemporary art. Still, the magnitude of the topic, its illusory quality has always been appealing for everyone. Human ideas and deeds relating to our common future in connection with the contemporary civilization that is based on high-tech development and advancement present rich ground for reflection. The present critical response dwells on one particular aspect of the exhibition Intermissions: Films from a Heroic Future.

The exhibition is presented by the Canadian Centre for Architecture from 25 November 2009 until 28 February 2010. The CCA is screening the materials from the archives of NASA, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Film Board of Canada and UbuWeb explore themes of speed and space. One of the reasons why the present exhibition is called “unprecedented” is that this is the first time when rare films that have never been accessible to the eye of the common viewer are shown in brand-new cinematic screening rooms that are organized and decorated specially for this occasion. Thus, the present critical writing is devoted to the screening conditions of the current exhibition since the conditions themselves can be considered a masterpiece.

The zest of our critical response to Intermission

Films from a Heroic Future will be the application of an existing literary work devoted to site, space, and screen. It is an authoritative book by Connolly that will help us to show the importance of screening conditions for the general realization of the purpose of the exhibition and the intentions of the authors while creating their works.

Maeve Connolly presents the description and analysis of the pavilions of several exhibitions, Kultur and Freizeit, among them. Here she stresses the uniqueness of the design of the exhibition that “incorporated elements of folk art as a gesture towards a utopian integration of art and life”5. The design of Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future is aimed at the realization of a similar purpose, it is meant for the integration of art and life while the latter is presented at its highly developed technological level of the present advancement of science and research.

One more idea that is mentioned in the book by Connolly will be useful for the spectators of Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future. It is about the special nature of screening conditions of films at the exhibitions. The space where the films are presented to the audience is “‘in-between space’: between the reality of the sidewalk and the fiction of the projection”6. Thus, the auditorium in which the film is projected is the borderline between the material and immaterial7 and the viewer should pay attention to it to get a full impression of the film presented.

Taking this information into consideration, it is necessary to acquaint the future visitors of the exhibition with the screening conditions of Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future.

First, the galleries of the CCA have been transformed in the following way: there is the main screening gallery that presents video selections that are grouped by such themes as speed, flight, cosmonauts, etc. The advantage of this gallery is the possibility to get a focused viewing experience. Two additional galleries are devoted to another type of presentation; continuous projects can be watched there.

Still, the archive room is the most unique one. It is equipped with nine personal viewing stations, which provide a more intimate atmosphere for the visitors. A visitor can enjoy the films alone, devoting as much time to them as he/she needs. The impression is created that a person gets his individual and secret access to the materials gathered by such organizations as NASA. The isolation of a viewer also offers the idea that a man is isolated in the Universe.

Since speed and continuity of existence are among the main themes of the present exhibition, the minor details of the interior are of great value as well. Exhibition design includes citations from the previous exhibition. The marks of deinstallation process can be also observed. They suggest the movement of the time in itself, continuity of life, and its unsteadiness. Since drill holes and other technical details are never demonstrated to the visitors at usual exhibitions, these details also add to the impression that a visitor is allowed to see something unique, as the videos from the archive room. Screening conditions definitely contribute to the realization of the themes of the films possible.

Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future gives a visitor an opportunity to realize his/her uniqueness and the place in changing society. The main feature of life as offered by the exhibition is velocity. Do not miss your chance to visit Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future since life is moving and changing very fast.

Appendix

Film still from L’homme vite
Film still from L’homme vite, Guy Borremans, 1963. ONF/NFB.

Works Cited

Canadian Centre for Architecture. The CCA Presents Groundbreaking and Experimental Films in the Exhibition Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future. Press Release. 2010. Web.

Connolly, Maeve. “Cine-material Structures and Screens.” The Place of Artists’ Cinema: Space, Site, and Screen. Bristol, UK, Chicago: Intellect Books, 2009. 163-212, 242-246.

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