(waterpiece): Video Still #1 (waterpiece)

Like an experiment in an underwater dream laboratory, the re-videoed image of Sturgeon’s submerged face looks out; while as investigator, he stops and starts the underwater sequence, measuring the air bubbles surfacing.

Porky_01 Porky

In a brief sudden explosion of inhalations and exhalations – breathing in and out of plastic bag… a sinister, sexually ambiguous masked being erupts with desperate almost dangerous energy.

NOR/MALCON/VERSE: Video Still #1 NOR/MAL CON/VERSE

Gesturing their conversation from behind dark glasses in face-to-face headshots, Sturgeon and Sobel exaggeratedly mimic a computer-synthesized voice track.

Shirt: Video Still #6 Shirt

By repeating a sequence, then working directly on the surface of the monitor with alligator clips, Sturgeon transforms the act of folding a shirt into a painterly field of self-information gathering.

Hands Up: Video Still #1 Hands Up

Conceptually, this is a tape whose imagery unfolds in a series of skits, through a deepening detective-style investigation of the nature of sexuality.

the Two of Triangles: Video Still #1 the Two of Triangles

Steadily grinning from under a straw hat, a beguiling character alternately manipulates the camera position then resituates himself in front of it, creating an uneasy yet humorous mood.

Shapes from the Bone Change: Video Still #1 Shapes from the Bone Change

Sturgeon opens with a series of ritual body gestures, signaling with primal shapes, the square and triangle, as wind sounds whistle.

2 Aspects: Video Still #1 2 Aspects

Using the desert floor like a drawing surface for a diagrammatical enactment of the function of conjunction and opposition, Sturgeon combines a delicate and precise ritualistic structure with the vastness and unpredictability of the windswept landscape.

Conjunct: Video Still #4 Conjunct

This highly edited tape of carefully composed images speaks clearly an inner world language of dream space and alchemical ritual.

Conjunction/Opposition: Performance Still #1 Conjunction / Opposition

A series of four evenings of evolving video performances, with Aysha Quinn, consisting of black/white live & pre-recorded video with sculptural sets, at Site, San Francisco, CA.

As Above, As Below: Installation Photo #1 As Above, As Below

A “performed” video/sculptural installation created for a solo exhibition at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Spinning Dream: Performance Still #1 Spinning Dream

A video performance shown at the AND/OR Gallery in Seattle, Washington. The performance consisted of black/white live & pre-recorded video, with a sculptural set and text.

Conjunction/Opposition II: Performance Still #1 Conjunction / Opposition II

A video performance shown at the L.A. Louver Gallery in Venice, CA with accompanying performer, Aysha Quinn.

I Will Take You: Installation Photo #1 I Will Take You

An installation created for the Long Beach Museum of Art, “I Will Take You” features a large black and white video projection of a dark cloaked female circling in the desert.

Of Matter, Of Mind: Video Still #6 Of Matter, Of Mind

Mining subconscious terrain among clay symbols and archetypical beings, a metaphorical archeologist/fisherman plumbs psychic depths for latent clues to a more essential self.

Uroboros: Installation Photo #1 Uroboros

Uroboros revolves around a mandala metaphor, a mythological snake that devours itself, tail first, symbolizing the unity and continuance of opposites.

Atari is the New Parent: Performance Photo #1 Atari is the New Parent

A collaborative, interactive satellite performance with Aysha Quinn & Gary Lloyd, created for the Artist & Television Conference Cablecast, 1982.

SPINE/TIME: Video Still #1 SPINE / TIME

SPINE/TIME is a poetic and dramatic work on the transformative process of being.

NoEarth/NoEarthSation: Performance Photo #1 NO EARTH/NO EARTH STATION

A collaborative video/performance originally performed at the 2nd Intermedia Arts Festival Corraboree Theater

Candle Saw: Video #1 candle-saw

The undulating, sweeping dance of the camera (by Dan Reeves) hovers around Sturgeon’s meditative seated figure. Amid a dream-like setting – candle, woodpile and saw – the imagery swirls with the poetic text and ripping sound track.

Fragments - BeetSurgery: Performance Photo #1 FRAGMENTS

“Fragments” was a collaborative performance by Quinn/Sturgeon 1984-87. An hour long variable collection of inter-related performance vignettes, tape sketches, monologues and interactive live computer graphic imagery developed over several years.

the House of Influence: Video Still #1 the HOUSE of INFLUENCE

the HOUSE of INFLUENCE expresses the tension/pressure of an internal dialogue, with poetic asides and the image/acoustic metaphor of relentless water about the artist.

Chariot Chamber: Installation Photo #1 CHARIOT CHAMBER

The translucent wall glows with the rhythmic color sequences, and moves in response to air currents. Monitors and muted neon provide all light for the installation…

Melting Pot: Video Still #1 Melting Pot

Melting Pot is a video that presents a collage of complex images and sounds to depict the complex fabric of its subject.

Inside Out: Video Still #1 Inside Out

Inside Out utilizes camera generated imagery, digitally processed material, computer graphics and animation to investigate the internal sense of the boundaries of self.

Falling Moor: Performance Photo #1 Falling Moor

Falling Moor was one of several works Sturgeon executed as part of Symposium Moor 1992, an international festival of performance & site-specific work on the Wittemoor.

Symposium Moor 1992

Symposium Moor 1992 was an International Festival of performance & site specific work on the Wittemoor, a state nature preserve in northern Germany.

Moor Battery: Performance Photo #1 Moor Battery

Moor Battery was one of several works Sturgeon executed as part of Symposium Moor 1992, an international festival of performance & site specific work on the Wittemoor.

Fishing Moor: Performance Photo #1 Fishing Moor

Fishing Moor was one of several works Sturgeon executed as part of Symposium Moor 1992, an international festival of performance & site-specific work on the Wittemoor.

TRAP/bat: Installation Photo #1 TRAP/bat

TRAP/bat is a sculptural video installation composed of six channels of pre-recorded video and one channel of live video.

NARKOSE: Installation Photo # NARKOSE

NARKOSE is a two channel video and sculptural installation, with poetic text (English & German).

Blooming, while we are sinking: Installation Video Still #1 Blooming, while we are sinking

Blooming, while we are sinking is a collaborative video installation (Akkermann/Sturgeon), with sculptural elements, sound and dual language, spoken text.

...of the father: Installation Photo #2 …of the father

…of the father – an installation evoking issues of the father and the nature of fathering, through two videos, poetry and sculpture elements.

Arms Length: Video Still #1 Arm’s Length

Arm’s Length navigates from the formal austerity of the museum, through the ambience of the city and daily life of a single parent’s familial efforts, to lumbering stalkers amid the ‘red light’ district.

Dissolving: Screen Shot #5 Dissolving

Dissolving is an interactive CD­-ROM, featuring poetry, sound, image map and Quick-Time movies. The central image, a b&w photograph of a seated figure engulfed in a cloud, forms a large image map which contains all the elements of the work.

audio-icon It is the best of times

It is the best of times
when the need for language surrenders
and gazes twinkle -

Brother embraces brother
neighbor greets neighbor
and the wind sings gentle in the branch

Cake & Eat It, Too: Performance Photo #2 Cake & Eat It, Too

A video projection performance at Kulturetage, Oldenburg, Germany with simulcast for N. German television. The performance depicts a fateful illusion or delusion by investigating some of the contradictions inherent in expanding consumption, unrestrained desire for possession and a short-­sided view of the consequence to actions.

audio-icon the Gnaw

Willful descent
of collective urgency
to control – to own, profit
no matter what the imbalance

audio-icon Dotted Lines

Borders, boundaries – dotted lines
“die Mauer”
disputed territory,
no-fly zones
DMZ

audio-icon Turn Again in the Wrap

There is a way the body learns
when it moves through this place,
where it flows down below conception -
seeps beneath pretenses -

Reven Winged Hours: Screen Shot #1 Raven-Winged Hours

A collaboration between artists from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Fachhochschule Schwaebisch Hall, Germany.

at low tide: Photo #1 at low tide

at low tide is a collaborative, multimedia project by John Sturgeon and Christina Nguyen Hung that was created for the das Wattenmeer (Wadden Sea), an exhibition at Artothek in Oldenburg, Germany coordinated by slap-social land art project.

ARCHIVIST: Video Still #1 ARCHIVIST

An experimental poetic work spun from a train-rush of collective imprints of war and idiosyncratic archiving as memory, “Archivist’s” multi-stream image collages scroll or overlap within the larger frame, as a poetic thread fuses with acoustic compositions.

touch & avoidance-1 “touch & avoidance”

Composed of surreptitious iPhone recordings while traveling the London Underground, the video’s focus is on the way Londoners ritually use the array of electronic and digital communications media to connect but also to protect by simultaneously disengaging from the intensity of modern urban life. The ubiquitous “smart” technologies immediately pulled out in the public space of the Tube signals unavailability and affirm disconnectedness, yet concurrently offer unprecedented virtual connectivity even the potential of global community.



Off

Arm’s Length

    |    2000


Arm’s Length navigates from the formal austerity of the museum, through the ambience of the city and daily life of a single parent’s familial efforts, to lumbering stalkers amid the ‘red light’ district. Produced entirely in Amsterdam, the weave of image and poetic text, movement and sound gradually reveals a portrait of the daily negotiations of human intimacy.

As these levels, nuances and varying currencies of relating emerge, so to do our subtle protective strategies of distancing…
…that keep experience at – arm’s length.

Special Thanks

Christina Hung – for her advise and continuing technical support
Boudewijn Payens – for his generous hospitality

1. - Rembrandt's Night Watch & Vermeer's Milk Maid [Voice Over]

 

He observed:

dark and light with a fascination

for a certain inclusion,

at  - arm’s length

 

She established:

a proper relationship

from an appropriate distance

with a suitable perspective

 

They debate:

accents of doubt

highlighted against

the background

of inadequacy

 

Neither admit:

the foreground of distrust,

evoked by an interplay

of transgressions

with its contrasting depth of silence

 

Some question:

this negotiated tension -

its fertile undulation

derived from the obvious form

thrust forward -

 

We  acknowledge:

this question -

presented in juxtaposition

to a painful lack of content,

as an immersed obscurity

never penetrated.

 

Others use:

a ruse of surface chiaroscuro

to veil the ineffable

weight and measure

of the day’s expense.

 

 ------------------------- 

 

2. - Boudewijn and kids on the bike [Text & Voice Over]

 

symptoms -

some subtle anticipation of geometry,

treasures   -

/     held in less memory

photographs   -

/     becoming faceless,  without name,

reverberations   -

/     abandoned to decay

 

/     passing -

already familiar,

like the final glance

clutched from the room

reluctantly vacated

for the next -

 

 -------------------------

 

3.  - Boudewijn and kids in his studio [Text]

 

the sweetness -

the unfathomable sweetness of moments,

as they pass...

 

passing through outstretched fingers

falling through spaces, we can not hold

/     flickering embrace

/     fallen from intent

grace the fabric of our focus

passing from presence

 

-------------------------

 

4. - Leopards in the Zoo [Voice Over]

 

Wait in advance of torture

/     which will slip within the space left by absence

/     at a moment not anticipated

The center turns loose

/     amid the bush beings

/     incited by voluptuous hunger

/     searching the dark

/     for night.

 

-------------------------

 

5. - The Red Light District [Voice Over]

 

He succumbs:

to magnetic entanglement

with doctrine and will

 

She embraces:

the unconscious anchor

of an enigmatic fidelity

 

Both profit:

by reciprocal thrift

integral to the flesh -

even, neon-red saturated flesh

 

They desire:

an impenetrable economy

membranes  -  glass, or skin

provisionally affirm

separation

 

All needs:

embodied in the flesh

twist through the helix

of the ancient bed

enslaved to spiral the edges of things

 

We wonder:

who is the prey?

what price paid?

or, debt contracted?

if, in deed, these were acknowledged at all

 

None escape:

this desperate negotiation

once begat -

the chosen flesh

 

-------------------------

 

6. - The fish, zoo and night scene of the park gate [Text & Voice Over]

 

Even as the cherished disperse,

/     swept away

/     by swirling edges of the sovereign -

 

Experience of the turning wheel:

/     supplants humility,

/     where the stone argues most deeply

/     befriends injury,

/     at foundation's corner

/     offers silence,

/     no other takes away

In Arm’s Length (2000), Sturgeon’s first single-channel video in over a decade of working in installation and performance, he aims his sights at a more subtle means of considering alienation in its various forms. This return to single-channel video also marks a rededication to the poetic that was beginning to decay in previous installations due to his aggressive appropriations of mass media. In this video, Sturgeon fully leaves the dreamscape of deserts, salt flats, ancient ruins, etc., and takes time to listen to what the mundane can tell us about non-rational economy. Sturgeon manages to capture the commonest sights and sounds of everyday life from such an individualized perspective that they appear as an alien presence that suggests unnamable currents circulating through the most routinized experience. For example, he shows that waiting for and riding on a tram is as good a site as any for his peculiar brand of archaeology. One can find wonders and horrors of the magnitude usually reserved for great social disasters like war, and they cannot be privatized, analyzed, owned or dissected. Such flows are far too elusive. This video insists that the impossible is possible, but frustratingly just out of reach. It wants to demonstrate the impossible to the viewer, but makes no secret that ultimately it cannot. From both within and without, Arm’s Length is the representation of soft melancholy and of the will to continue the quest for understanding.- Steven Kurtz, Critical Art Ensemble (Sept. 2000)

    Technical Specifications

  • Duration15 minutes
  • Color StyleColor
  • Audio SystemStereo

    Credits

  • ArtistJohn Sturgeon
  • DirectorJohn Sturgeon
  • ProducerJohn Sturgeon
  • CreatorJohn Sturgeon
  • WritingJohn Sturgeon
  • EditingDan Hoffman, John Sturgeon
  • AnimationDan Hoffman, Christina N. Hung
  • Voice OverJohn Sturgeon
  • AudioAmsterdam, The Netherlands (1998),
  • “VAT-I-CAN,” Michael Pestel & John Sturgeon (©1992)