Jeremy Shaw : Phase Shifting Index

Fonderie Darling is delighted to welcome the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal for the first time in its history.

A vast, immersive, seven-channel video installation—the culmination of Shaw’s work of the last few years—Phase Shifting Index is an exhilarating, para-scientific reverie of enormous intellectual and artistic ambition. In what seems to be an anthropological assessment from a distant future, a narrator retrospectively comments on the emergence of baffling new realities on seven screens that display what appear to be archival documents of various movement-based groups dating from the 1960s to the 1990s, captured in their corresponding twentieth-century media formats, from 16-mm film to VHS and Hi 8 video. 

The cathartic and ritualized movements performed on each of the independent but simultaneously playing screens, which can be experienced either individually or more collectively from a raised platform, suggest unique cultures, with belief systems formed around their aspirations of inducing parallel realities through movement. 

Shaw subverts viewers’ trust in the truthfulness conferred by documentary strategies, transporting the audience to uncharted artistic and sensorial territory, while exploring how altered states and embodied corporeal practices also transform the perception of time. The work seems to explore the gap between the timeless notion of transcendence and the scientific attempts to explain, locate and define it.

Beautifully combining staged documentary, choreography, evocations of spiritual practices, neuroscientific research, drug-induced psychedelic revelations, club subcultures, visual effects, music and alternative movement therapies, the screens conspire in an intriguing narrative that unfolds skillfully and inexorably into thrilling chaos. The artwork culminates in an inevitable, yet surprising, “transtemporal” synchronized collective ecstasy—with all the subjects on all the screens performing the same hypnotic dance. A breathtaking glimpse of rapture.