Somewhere over the TV was a collaborative installation by Nina Pope and Karen J Guthrie. It was shown at the start of this year in the Collective Gallery in Edinburgh, and the Fringe Gallery in Glasgow.
The installation utilised natural materials, computer animation and video, using the image and metaphor of the forest to challenge conditioned perceptions of reality - questioning the concept of truth through the computer or television screen. The traditionally perceived romance of landscape was questioned by the confinement of technology and nature within the gallery.
The installation was designed to exploit two adjoining spaces as 'stages' - both in the theatrical sense and in the sense of a journey, evoking a sense of highly condensed narrative familiar from theme parks.
The first room was densely packed with evergreen trees set into yellow aquatic gravel, through which the viewer walked down a narrow path, the trees sloping up to the ceiling on either side of them. The low light and height of the trees created a dense atmosphere.
The artifice of this 'enchanted forest' ended abruptly on entering the second space, where the visitor emerged into a bright space over looking the street. The floor was submerged beneath artificial flowers, and the viewer had to walk over these to view a computer animation and, opposite, a television showing a video. Both these sequences shared the imagery of the first space, but questioned its 'authenticity' in their formats and content. The computer animation was highly stylised, generated within a 3D programme, whereas the video footage was filmed in an actual forest (in which the trees in the first room were felled), creating a dual tension both between these two versions of 'on-screen' reality, and in their relationship to the first space's 'artificial' reality.
The authenticity of the gallery experience was further questioned by a second computer animation simulating the viewer's movement through the entire piece. This was continually shown on a computer placed directly behind the television, facing onto the street beyond.
In addition, sensory perception of the two areas was heightened by using synthetic pine-scented air freshener in the second space, to contrast with the organic smell in the first. Birdsong played very quietly in the forest, continually interrupted by the jarring bursts of white noise edited into the video which dominated the entire space.
We also produced an artists book to accompany the show.