© Barbara Sternberg, 2002


Auteure et productrice : Barbara Sternberg
Film et video : Barbara Sternberg
Design et production de l'interface : Michelle Gay

Calligraphie : Rubyn Budd
• Encrage (calligraphie) : Michelle Gay
• Programmation : Richard Conroy


Avec l'appui du Conseil des Arts de l'Ontario

Version anglaise — Macintosh™ et Windows™


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Version anglaise
Macintosh ™ et Windows™

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Institutions : 80 $


Barbara Sternberg has been making (experimental) films since the mid-seventies. Her films have been screened widely including Ontario Cinematheque and Pleasure Dome in Toronto, The Museum of Modern Art in New York,George Pompidou Centre in Paris, and are in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Canada. Sternberg has also participated in gallery exhibitions with mixed media installations and performance art. She has been visiting artist at a number of Canadian universities as well as the Universite d'Avignon and the Schoool of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was co-founder of Struts gallery in Sackville,New Brunswick, was a founding member of Pleasure Dome: Film Artists Exhibition Group in Toronto and taught in Film and Visual Arts at York University. "Illuminations: a Book of Letters" is her first Cdrom artwork. It was premiered at Pleasure Dome and presented at the Festival de nouveau cinema et des nouveau medias de Montreal. She is currently at work on a videotape and another cdrom.


Author and Producer: Barbara Sternberg

Film and Video: Barbara Sternberg

Interface Design and Production: Michelle Gay

Letter Drawing: Rubyn Budd

• Letter Inking: Michelle Gay

• Programming: Richard Conroy

Funded by
The Ontario Arts Council


ILLUMINATIONS: A BOOK OF LETTERS est un CD-ROM dont la forme s'inspire du livre d'images. Chacune de ses 26 'pages' représente une lettre de l'alphabet, et combine de la vidéo, des photos, des citations et des créations visuelles. La science, la religion et les arts y sont traités lettre par lettre, dans des juxtapositions parfois surprenantes.

The pages of the "book" are comprised, like illuminated manuscripts, of both images and text. The text has a main body and supplementary diverging quoted passages from the realms of the arts, science and religion. These sub-texts can be opened by a viewer selecting the 'author bar'. The line of "main" text seen on each page lays out themes and questions about how we perceive reality, understand creation, live with contradiction.

On each page, two video sequences with sound are edited side by side and play in a continuous loop. Along the left side of the screen, three still images can be changed by the viewer clicking on them. The multiple images on the page are arranged so as to be reminiscent of both illuminated manuscripts and the computer screen itself. Images will function differently than text exploiting the more bodily nature of perception in contrast to the conceptual aspect of language. Interconnections exist between the images and text on each page and between pages, though the work does not have to be experienced sequentially. Ideas relay throughout, unifying the work and making connections.

While encyclopeidic in approach, organized by the letters of the alphabet, the Book Of Letters is not an encyclopedia. It focuses on and makes connections between religion, art and science, three disciplines that inform so much of contemporary life and interface in these times. The work in science on the beginnings of the universe, on DNA/genomes, "blueprints for human creation", and on fractals, the science of chaos, are ripe with counterparts in Genesis and Apocalypse of the Bible and creation myths of other cultures. Physicists speak of divine plans and the history of art is full of sacred imagery. Art is regarded as a spiritual expression by some, as a making of material objects by others. Computer printouts of fractals are seen as art, and artists are engaged with technology and scientific concepts. In all three disciplines the question of reality, its perception and its representation, looms. The Book works with contradictions and paradoxes seeing these as opposing poles of a unified whole. Due to its interactive nature, the CDRom can offer a great deal of textual material.

The imagery in the videos comes from daily life, what's around us: the morning light in the kitchen, items on a bedroom dresser and repetitive motions such as patting, hammering, rowing, kneading. Also the reverie-inducing motions of flames flickering, leaves fluttering, waves lapping. Included are images that surround our daily lives, that form the lived context, images from newspapers, T.V. and movies.

In this piece, with images paired on each page, certain connections, synchronous moments, will be experienced between the dual images. References in text to something previously imaged, will bind the work together over the twenty-six 'pages'. Important images and concepts in this regard are fire, hand, language (communication). Rhythmic pulsing makes equivalences between disparate images; think of hammering, kneading, rowing, walking.

This piece works with the idea of the union of opposites. The image of a potter creating a vessel on the wheel from raw clay contains both nature and culture; male and female are conjoined in procreation; fire is destructive and nurturing (love and hate). Fire forges links between science and religion which are often thought of as opposing conceptual frameworks and, via alchemy, between science and art.

The relationship between language and experience is acknowledged: the analytic, conceptual aspects of language and the bodily, felt nature of visuals. In the Book, the main text uses concepts, abstract nouns such as 'love', 'hell', 'creation', 'presence'. The images, apprehended visually, bodily make the concepts tangible, felt - hand carressing cat, men wrestling, the raw material of clay being formed into a vessel - (this last image might be seen to reference the Biblical image of man as molded by god and at death returned to the mud).


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