SubMERGE by Lee Deigaard
A multi-level, immersive, site-specific video, photographic, and sculptural installation
Oct 5, 2013- Feb 2, 2014
Contemporary Arts Center
900 Camp Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours: Wednesday through Monday 11am-5pm
Lee Deigaard’s SubMERGE is the latest site specific installation in the ongoing EMERGE exhibition series in the first floor oval gallery. Immersive and multilevel, SUBMERGE’s projections, ambient audio, and embedded lens photographs and videos can be experienced at ground level amidst a forest of wood pilings, conduit pipe, and plywood and viewed from above and in the round along the ramp to the second floor. Inspired by the circulatory processes of trees, waterways, roads, arteries, plumbing, and other networks, the installation considers submersion, rising water levels, branchings and mergings within the constructed landscape. With ambient sounds of whistling ducks, tree dwelling cicadas, and thunderstorms.
The exhibition includes photographic works of forensic tree parts and embedded wall lens photographs.
Much of the vocabulary of movement- of exhalation and inspiration- reflects the capillary processes of trees. The fractal attenuation of trunks to twigs parallels the circulatory systems of humans and rivers. From above, the Mississippi delta resembles a tree. Histologies from the brain’s seat of sensory and motor control look like trees. Subways, highways, sewers, bile ducts and hepatic arteries branch and merge, circulate and drain. The flow is inexorable.
In the woods, as the sun moves, trees draw and redraw their reciprocal forms in shadows on the ground; their canopies filter the sky. After a hurricane, empty pilings stand where houses used to be. Torn and spindled stumps and twisted splintery shrapnel are the forensic remains of trees. Once I drove a long way to visit a venerable old tree. But I needed a canoe to reach it.
Daily, Louisiana cedes ground to rising water. The weather grows ever more unpredictable. In heavy downpours, we say the sky is opening. Wind and water shape us.
The Mississippi clogs with sediment. An artery in the brain obstructs and explodes. Balls of grease block sewers; tar balls sink in the gulf. A fender-bender becomes a bottleneck. The lights under the dock draw the fish, and bait balls circle.
The housing bubble, the sprawl, the fallow subdivisions. Once you build a road, the lumber trucks follow. Young trees, loose-grained, their growth spurts laminated into plywood, sawn into posts lift houses ever higher. Runoff, backflow, effluvia: oil and water mix. The flow is inexorable.