Haunted Places

Authored by: Colin Gardner

The Ashgate Research Companion to Media Geography

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409444015
eBook ISBN: 9781315613178
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042822

10.4324/9781315613178.ch13

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Abstract

In a key series of projected installation works completed during the mid-1990s – most notably Der Sandmann (1995) and Nu•tka• (1996) – the Canadian artist/theorist Stan Douglas redefined the distinction between place and space through a process of temporal deterritorialization, transforming both the individual and the historical subject into a spectral absence. Through a number of self-reflexive filmic and video mechanisms that deconstructed the enunciative properties of the apparatus itself (largely through split screen and a questioning of the historical or subjective authority of voice-over narration), Douglas used his camera to define a specific place – Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island; the studio reproduction of a fictional Schrebergärtenkolonie in Postdam, East Germany – all the better to fracture its dynamic connections to otherwise contiguous spaces through dislocations of time and memory. As a result, traditionally repressed or marginalized forces such as the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and schizoid childhood traumas – defined as “other” in relation to the dominant colonial power or patriarchal Oedipal authority respectively – were effectively activated as a willful disruptor of linear time as a “return of the repressed.” This paranoia-inducing haunting creates a new kind of rhizomatic, and by extension, political space that is always in process, for as Douglas argues (1998a: 29), “Almost all of the works, especially the ones that look at specific historical events, address moments when history could have gone one way or another. We live in the residue of such moments, and for better or worse their potential is not yet spent.”

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