Website last updated July 2011


Installation in collaboration with Rae Davis: films, videos, sculpture,
Art Gallery of Windsor; Articule, Montreal; Koffler Gallery, Toronto 1998

SURGE involves the following elements:

In the centre of a space (approx. 15'x15') is a table (3'x5'). On the table is heaped (to a height of 1 1/2') a mound of cutlery-knives, forks, spoons jutting out at different angles. This sculptural element will be lit from above on a dimmer program. From below a lighting program involving power surges will both highlight the planes of the cutlery and cast shadows. Table, lighting and cutlery will be fabricated as on sculptural piece.

Each of two opposing walls holds a black and white film image (8'x10'minimun); one, the swelling surface of a body of water, the other, a white line moving in changing directions (spiking, zig-zagging, looping) on a black ground. These images filling the walls run in a seamless continuous loop.

Occupying positions at the head and foot of the table (and backing onto the blank walls) are two vertical screens (3'x2') for rear projection, raised slightly above table height. Picture, here on screen #1 the following images: inside a winter hedge, a road with embedded glass shining, images seen in passing through a train window, and a close-up of hands gesturing metaphors for a story. On screen #2: a rocking chair rocking, water moving uphill, E dancing up and down, D bobbing in water, a woman washing her face in a basin, spiky sun like fire, leaves fluttering, an axe splitting wood, water splashing a child's face, shocking.

These two sets of edited colour images differ in density and rhythm, presenting two 'personalities'. They will run in a continuous loop format with built in gaps or spaces.

The sound elements may include ambient meal-time clatterings, amplified breathing, and intermittent short personal memories arising from family meals.

Viewers need to circulate around the table for the fullest view of all elements in the installation. The room is unlit except for emanations from the projections and table.

SURGE is an electric term—a surge of power has potential to connect, to carry information and also connotes a synapse, a break-up, compensation for loss. SURGE is more than an electric term though. SURGE is associated with water, with billowing. SURGE refers to a certain kind of movement that exists in many life situations.

Spatially the piece focuses on the home with its four walls and table—the table is what you put the roof on. Family history is made around the table. The heaped cutlery is both seductive and threatening, suggestive of the shifting dynamics of experience. The table (and viewer) is encompassed within the space between two wall images/ or, is housed between the two wall images—water (world) and line (mind). The overall surface of the water image can be seen simplified and abstracted in the movement of the drawn line.
The colour film imagery is more personal and evocative of a life lived and a quality of individual sensibility. SURGE makes cross-references between body and world in their multiple manifestations. SURGE is a way of being in the world.

Surge: Rae Davis and Barbara Sternberg by Suzanne Farkas
Wow I wanna live there!; October, 2000

like a dream that vanishes: the films of Barbara Sternberg
"re:surfacing", Tim Dallett

Parachute 98 Avr, Mai, Juin 2000
"Rae Davis et Barbara Sternberg"
by Christine Palmieri



Barbara Sternberg © 2011
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