The Fortress of History is the latest in a series of artworks in which we focus activity on a geographical area and presentation space over a defined period of time. During these projects we integrate performance, documentation, installation, and internet dissemination. Our desire with this work is to bring together the worlds of physical action and virtual creation.

During our explorations of Victoria we collected over 500 objects— bits of plastic, glass, and pottery found along roadsides or the waterfront. A beach in Equimault was a rich source of fragments of coloured glass that have been ground smooth by the action of waves over shoreline rocks. The other objects hanging in the gallery installation are the remnants of industrially-created utensils and toys. We are interested in the way that the identity of these objects has changed: what once belonged to someone and had a function has been separated from the context in which it was useful and been broken or otherwise altered by exposure to natural or human actions.

The image transformations seen on the video screen are being generated in real time using a computer program we designed for this installation. The program chooses groups of object photos at random and looks for differences between areas of light and dark in the images. These areas of light and dark become windows that allow parts of background images to become visible in changing ways. Periodically the photographs feeding the transformation are replaced by images of much lower resolution, and the keying windows open and close on coloured rectangles, the building blocks of a digital image. The soundscape is also being generated while the program runs, as sound files from offsite micro-performances are transformed.

We are interested in the frame around an artwork— the nature and location of boundaries between art and life. In the Fortress we zoom into and out of different levels of framing: the camera recording an offsite performance, the institutional structure of the Art Gallery, the sweet spot of the sound field in the LAB installation. Where is the centre? Where is the edge?

To develop material we staged micro-performances at unannounced times and locations in the Victoria area. In these performances we made audio recordings at each location and played the sounds back into the environment, documenting the activity with still and video cameras and a minidisc recorder.

The presence of documenting equipment seems to change the way these performances are received by onlookers: because the actions are being recorded they become "authorized". In some of these performances we used found objects as instruments for making sound, scraping and tapping available surfaces.

To access the online component of the Fortress visit the AGGV ArtBase site and click on the link "Virtual Works" or go to <>.
In the online component we present reworked images downloaded from the AGGV ArtBase site, and video and still image documentation and sound recordings from our offsite activities.

Laura Kavanaugh
Ian Birse
March 2007