Ward N°7
Interactive video installation
programing: Adam Kendall
soundtrack: Aernoudt Jacobs

production: Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds -
coproduction: Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie -
CCNOA center for contemporary non-objective art -
with support: Nadine vzw -

Technical description:
1 computer
1 video projector
1 retro-projection screen
8 speakers with 2 amplifiers
1 security video b/w camera
cables to link cameras and computer
3 IR lamps

Technologies : Max/Msp/Jitter

Ward N7
Or What is after?

The installation title comes from the story of Anton Chekhov “Ward N°6”.

The story is about Dr. Andrey Yefimych Ragin has for many years been the superintendent of a town hospital. A solitary man who pursued a medical career to please his father, he feels superior to the people who live in the provincial town, none of whom engage in intellectual or aesthetic pursuits. Initially,

Ragin has developed the philosophy that, since "dying is the normal and legitimate end of us all," there is no point in trying to cure patients or alleviate suffering. The endeavor is futile.

At one point, Ragin accidentally finds himself in Ward 6, where the lunatics are kept. One of them, Ivan Dmitrich Gromov is a well-educated paranoid man who engages Ragin in conversation. Ragin is so taken with this stimulating interchange that he begins to visit Ward 6 daily to debate with Gromov. Since the doctors never visit Ward 6, this is considered very peculiar behavior. Based on this new evidence of incompetence, the town council decides to fire Ragin from his position.

Finally, the new superintendent, Dr. Khobotov, tricks Ragin into visiting Ward 6, whereupon they incarcerate him as a lunatic. Shortly thereafter, Ragin has a stroke and dies.

Ward N7 aspires to explore that condition in which borders between the real and the imaginary, the conscious and the unconscious don’t exist anymore. Like Gromov said “enchanted circle”. He exhibition hall can become a prison or a comfortable place to have a rest in front of French window.

Entering the dark exhibition space visitor sees a long bright white screen. At the first gaze it is difficult to perceive a blurry landscape (as if you look outside through half transparent window) what is projected into it.

The light is so strong that we can only guess that it is a garden with trees and some unclear relief.

The surrounded sound confirms our guess. We hear wind blowing in leaves and birds singing, branch scratches coming from screen but in the same time another low constant noise in background gives a sensation of worry delimiting the other space not the one where we are in.

When we approach the screen “outside” sound starts to diminish and background noise becomes obvious. In a distant around 120 cm our eyes used to bright light begin to notice indistinct silhouettes arriving towards of us.

Following towards the screen and standing just a few cm from it we see distinguish figures that are bending towards of us, touching the screen from the other side hoping to make a contact or to ask a help or they wish to help us.

Screen is a border between. We step back and figures disappear.

ward N7 from alex dementieva on Vimeo.