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Scott Billings: A Risky Jump

Watch an innovative video installation about sleep, dreams and risks inherent in the creative act.

The line between sleeping and waking up is a thin one. Yet through cutting-edge film technology normally used in sports broadcasting, artist Scott Billings opens up and reveals this split-second transition that we experience every day.

Seven minutes in length, A Risky Jump begins with the artist shown curled up and sleeping on his studio floor. The floor is actually a trap door that gives way, jolting Billings awake. The viewer watches his contorted facial expressions and slow-motion freefall from the studio floor now above him to the crash pads below. Billings falls back asleep and the video repeats itself. Alongside this projected image, the artist has built a tall aluminum column that slowly lowers the projector and image of the falling artist down the gallery wall, mimicking the path of his body. This moving projector also spatially replicates the event from the studio in the gallery space, creating a compelling cinematic experience.

Billings reflects, “We are certainly present during our daily transition into sleep and back out again, yet it is difficult to assert that we truly experience it. Does the scientific apparatus offer a means to make visible that which we cannot experience? Or does it inherently belie and disenchant the wonder of our nightly transcendence into sleep?”

While A Risky Jump literally depicts a fall that pushes the limits of cinema, it can also be seen as poetry. Billings hovers in space as in a dream, caught between stillness and motion, sleep and wakefulness, levitation and falling. His suspended figure evokes the instability and tension of the artist’s life and the “leap into the void” that is the creative act.

About the Artist

Scott Billings is a visual artist and designer based in Vancouver. His sculptures and video installations frequently centre on issues of animality, mobility, and spectatorship. Billings holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia, a BFA from Emily Carr University, and a BASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. He teaches at UBC and Emily Carr as a sessional instructor.

Curator: Jordan Strom
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery

Image credit: Still from Scott Billings’ video A Risky Jump (2015).