Le Devoir 24/25 April 1999

Bernard Lamarche

translation supplied by the artist.

In the media room at Articule Gallery, artist Laurel Woodcock presents a disconcertingly simple yet undoubtedly captivating work. A strange, troubling “small opera” unfolds. Projected very low on the wall (already a striking choice), a video of a dying fly moves to the flow of words uttered by a poised voice. This child-like voice politely greets us before silencing itself in a weighty and agonizing way. The story this voice tells, along with the pathetic nature of its death and the fly’s struggle for life, renders this work with a troubling and subtle experience. This operetta — the fly’s cyclical dance, the synthetic voice and its chant — is borrowed from the voice of HAL 9000, the computer we all remember, that takes control of a space shuttle in 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. Upon being shut down, the super-computer identifies itself, then recites “A Bicycle Built for Two” thereby revealing his sad regression to infancy. The chopped sequence of the image coupled with the worried coldness of the voice; the presence of the solemn projector within the same space as us; the irregular and curious positioning of the projection on the wall; hence, the tone of this work is simply exemplary. The installation undermines the notion which considers the moment preceding death as one of ultimate liberation and places at the forefront, in an absurd and caustic humour, that it is rather a matter of one last and exhausting struggle. Exquisite.