Tate’s “Movies for a Pulsing Earth” offer compelling introspection at Gallery

Elisabeth Dowson
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If the thought of our planet eloquently interpreted as a living, pulsing entity is appealing, take a few moments to decompress, surrounded by the Art Gallery of Swift Current’s unforgettable and unique exhibition of Kent Tate’s “Movies for a Pulsing Earth,” curated with vision and foresight by Director Kim Houghtaling.

Friday’s Coffeehouse Evening begins at 7:30 p.m. with a reception and an opportunity to tour the exhibit with artist Kent Tate, but the exhibition speaks capably for itself with opportunities for introspection at each of the nine monitors, each playing its own video simultaneously, and interwoven with undulating soundtracks re-mixed by Tate that include the haunting sounds of earth’s magnetosphere.

Tate travelled extensively as an “army brat”, and he credits this montage of experiences from around the globe with instilling a passion for art, culture and music.

“As a little kid it didn’t filter through, what the meaning of all these magical places were, but certainly I was always really excited about it and really loved it,” Tate recalled.

At the age of 11, when his family settled in Ottawa, Tate discovered the National Museum and the National Gallery, and a love of modern painting evolved.

“I think I took my music and transferred it to painting. Through the eighties is when I really became an artist, in my early twenties. My focus of emphasis was entirely on painting, and to a lesser degree sculpture.

“The things that I loved about music, which is rhythm and the feeling of something, played strong in my painting and in how I approached art making in general. I think secretly, to this day, when it comes right down to it, I think deep down I’m a musician and I’m masquerading as a movie maker.”

A vacation to Hawai-i, and the impact of the primal rainforest in Volcano National Park, ignited Tate’s passion for video that evolved into a journey of intuitive interpretation.

“I was just smitten. That was a life-changing experience for me. There was something about the environment there, and the volcano, and the rain forest and it just seemed to represent everything – I didn’t know what I was looking for in terms of land and environment – but it was totally primal. I was obsessed with the place.

“Ideas get into your head and you’re not really clear what they are but you want to find out and discover it. That’s when I bought my first video camera, and that’s when I transferred my music from my painting to my movie-making.”

Tate realized that the patterns and rhythms in music from different cultures are intrinsic to - and inspired by - nature, but most people never perceive it. Tate’s time lapse and layering techniques allow the viewer to participate with the environment in a breathtaking, timeless framework.

He shuns the use of telephoto lenses and extensive enhancement of his film clips, but admits, “It made my life much, much harder, because I have the skills and the equipment to go in and edit and take a marginal shot and make it into something that looks good, but to me it’s almost like a betrayal to that moment so I’d rather put it in the effort of the work.

“I think in the long run it gives the work more authenticity. If I’m authentic, in the sense that I’m trying my best to be honest with what I’m showing, I think that’s going to resonate. It’s going to speak with more authenticity to the viewer.”

The Alternating Viewer, an androgynous luminary sculpture, plays a key role in this exhibit.

Kent Tate is a 2011 Saskatchewan Arts Board Media Arts Grant recipient. His work will be on display at Art Gallery of Swift Current until April 29.


Organizations: Art Gallery of Swift Current

Geographic location: Swift Current

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