Stan Douglas was born in Canada in 1960. His early works were slide installations with audio elements, but since 1986 he has concentrated on film and video. He lives and works in Vancouver.
The two men in Stan Douglas’s video installation are caught in a perpetual loop. The action repeats every six minutes, but the shots are selected randomly by a computer so that the same sequence will only occur every 20,000 hours - or once in over two years. The film questions our understanding of the uniqueness of events and our relationship to chance, coincidence and probability.
On screen, Bob and Donny engage in a rambling argument about the news, the radio, conspiracy theories and horse racing, which eventually degenerates into a physical fight. The sequence of events is continually repeated, each time with small variations in dialogue and performance. The scene takes place in a mock-up of an apartment building designed in 1950 for a redevelopment scheme in Vancouver. Such schemes were intended to solve the problem of low-income housing. This project, however, was never built (its planned location is shown in a series of photographs, also on display). Douglas’s simulated apartment is equipped with post-war modernist furniture, designed for mass-production, though in reality available only to the few. By combining these examples of unrealised utopianism, Douglas examines the divergence between the promises of modernism and its reality.
Douglas’s work reflects his engagement with the technical and psychological structures of mass media. The video’s narrative and claustrophobic atmosphere relate to early television police dramas. Using a double projection arrangement and filming simultaneously from multiple camera angles, Douglas breaks the illusion of face-to-face confrontation. As the tension mounts, the men cross between the screens, invading each other’s space and coming to blows. By subverting the techniques used in film to establish narrative and spatial continuity, Douglas ensures that the relationship between the two men remains ambiguous, and that our attempt to identify with them is constantly frustrated.