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Tour Saint-Henri Une Traversée de L’imageinaire (Maison de la culture Marie-Uguay, Montreal, Summer 2002)

I moved into my St-Henri apartment 21 years ago, and southwest Montreal still inspires me. Now that the Lachine Canal has been re-opened and expensive condos, some with private marinas, are being built on the canal, St-Henri is undergoing a gentrification which
may be good for the middle class but the poor and the working-poor are left out in the cold.

The poor and working-poor are being forced out of their appartments to make way for more expensive ones which they cannot afford thus leaving many homeless. Some have lived in the same place for generations and now they have nowhere to go. The government is very slow when it comes to helping these people.

I explore aspects of this situation in Tour St-Henri. A video installation consisting of six television monitors stacked in a 9ft metal structure which symbolizes St-Henri’s industrial past, a period that has come and gone.

The videos installed in the structure consist of digital paintings of St-Henri and an original sound track, all of which will highlight the social and political developments taking place in this rapidly-changing area.

The still images in the videos are transformed digitally to emulate paintings, thus adding a poetic aesthetic to them, calling into question the veracity of any political work that claims to be representational. The ever-running videos display how the area’s residents are attempting to create a new urban identity for themselves in southwest Montreal.

My multimedia video installation has obvious social implications: Governments and corporations must not just spend money on refurbishing the Lachine canal and subsidizing nearby condo developments. Those in power must make sure that the poor are not driven out into the streets. I hope to use my work to create new relationships between the poor and the rich in Staint-Henri, as well as in similar, neglected areas in other Canadian cities.

I believe that the latest trends in contemporary art (use of computer graphics, DVD, the internet etc) offer new modes of expression for artists who need to do original work. New art styles have always been influenced by their predecessors. Cubist painters, like artists in the generation before them, created portraits, still life and landscapes, but their works ’ execution-related characteristics were truly original. Similarly, digital art has not, cannot and will not exist in a vacuum.


The first examples of digitally-created art date back 20 years. Old dot-matrix printers without postscript capabilities could only produce unrefined digital art. Today computers are giving artists a new canvas upon which they can create works of a quality that rivals that of the classics. I believe the new art movements have made tremendous advances and are now forcing the contemporary art establishment to take notice.

Though my project explores new uses of technology, the work ’s main focus is sociopolitical. I would like this video installation to be a poetic reminder of lost ideals, something that will encourage us all to contribute meaningfully to our communities.

©2001John Mingolla

Tour Saint-Henri est une installation vidéographique composée d'une structure métallique et de six moniteurs représentant le quartier Saint-Henri aujourd'hui. Dans le but de rendre aux images l'apparence de la peinture, les bandes vidéographiques on été élaborées à partir de photographies digitales, retouchées et transformées à l'aide de l'ordinateur.

Clichés de sites et d'invidus, j' explore la nouvelle dynamique qui anime le quartier Saint-Henri à la manière d'un texte télévisuel. La tour métallique agit ici comme une allégorie rappelant le passé industriel du lieu où s'échafoudent des fragments d'une nouvelle identité urbaine.

   

© 1998-2000 J© 1998-2000 John Mingolla Grafixoh