Skip navigation

2nd Australian Video Festival - Two Video Installations

3 September 198727 September 1987


ALAN VIZENTS, SLEEP AND AWAKE (1983) - 3-27 September 1987

4 monitor video installation

DENIS DEL FAVERO AND FILEF, LINEA DI FUOCO (1987) - 31 August-4 October 1987

installation with video



Structural Premise
Four video tapes will play back from separate decks into separate monitors. The audio/visual content will shift from monitor to monitor in the patterns available (horizontal, vertical and diagonal shift). As the audio/visual leaves a monitor to appear on another, the image holds on still frame and the last spoken word appears, scripted on the bottom of the screen. In this manner there will always be 3 monitors in still frame and one active.

Conceptual Premise

The work is based on perceptual coding, the relationship between internal modelling and the physical world.

Development of Premise

The sequential logic of the story is 'de-centred'. The personality of the narrator is split into four actors, or one person acting as four individuals. The visual background in each monitor is a separate construction of signs: monitor one is the desk of a provincial official, two is a natural world constructed from a wall mural of a 'jungle scene' and a canoe as would be constructed by an Australian, three is a provincial restaurant, and four is an empty, 'internal' space. The content is first an 'adventure story', and the second a sequence of events that can not be analytically broken down without the sequence recomposing itself into a new set of alternatives, a non-conservative reality that rearranges its sense in a series of disruptive stages. Conclusions are indefinite articles of separate perceptual models, or, conditional realities.


Central America, specifically the Peten region of Guatemala, a tropical jungle cut by the Rio de la Pasion, The narrator describes a river journey by canoe in 1978.


The following is a series of excerpts from the entire text. The initial number refers to the monitor and the persona as outlined above.

1. Coban is the department capital of Alta Verapaz. It appears that from a springing mattress of hills someone of importance chose a commanding view and those of less importance raised a massive cathedral that dominates the countryside for many miles.

4. The wall behind the empty bed once opened as a portal into the next room, but this has been planked over and painted peachy-coral like the rest of the room. 'No Respondemos' reads the sign, twice underlined, tacked to the planks.

1. 'We are not responsible'.

2. The Mayan image of the world was that it is flat four-cornered, and appears like the back of a giant crocodile resting in a pool of water lilies.

4. This waiting grows in the jungle as the sunlight refracts in the river prism and every day comes apart in separate directions. There is no way to leave the village except by the river. The dogs scratch their raw skin, the pigs hug the earth and the cows roar in the finest contentment.

3. We play games fabricated from scraps of paper, stones, beans, dry maize kernels, stranded in a world of skin pined and needled by tropic endemics among children leaning on their limbs with a baffled stare, chewing the frayed edges of their clothing.

2. The river is a mirage, always receding from our feeble constructions of reality, becoming something at the edges of a bank, changing its own trail each day, lifting silt, moving rocks, vines, branches, uprooting entire trees, the water a canoe passing itself, coming upon itself, leaving its debris to be discovered again in its own languid trail,

4. A young woman approached the fire who I had not seen before in the village. She was pregnant and asked in Spanish if we were religious people. Someone among the French answered and said no, that it was difficult for him to explain, and the woman asked if we had any children, and no it was not possible to travel and care for children, and she said yes, that no-one who passed here was Catholic, or had children, but she had a friend in Sayaxche who had a small child and would any of us accept this child as a gift if they would care for it as her friend could not. There were none of us who could accept the child, care for it, or answer her directly without difficulty.

3. A small bowl of sugar in rough crystals, as large as a coffee cup rimming a mountain of shiny gray sugar; eight flies hike about eating leisurely, bumping into one another, taking off and landing sporadically in fly by fly routine. The thin soup of frijoles and onion chips, the rice with bits of tomato and a straw basket of tortillas are gone, I ate them weeks ago in some other place.

1. The soil, deprived of its forest cover by slashing the growth with machete and axe, will support a crop for a mere two years before the surface becomes unworkable, developing a layer of brick-like laterite in the fierce sun and rain. The field must then be abandoned over a period of four to seven years, and a new 'milpaslashed and burned, sowed and harvested, in an endless shift and wander system of agriculture.

4. That everything is as it should be, that distances the stranger, for he is firmly convinced that not everything is as it should be and further complicating his misunderstanding, he is not quite sure what everything could be.

4. The back door is opened and the level of sound is unchanged, everyone passes within and without. There are four metal card tables in this room, covered with waxy tablecloths printed in explosive pointsettia patterns, and beside each table is an orbit of folding chairs, each back rest is covered with a piece of raw canvas remotely imitating the seats of an airplane or first-class bus.

4. It is late in the evening and the river seems to have passed into the throat of a vast insect world, cascades of sound that seem to originate beneath the canoe, above in the moon-air or from the towering forest of the interior.

2. I lay on my sore back inches from the water surface, and the river itself lays silent, moving in its pace far below the surface, along the mud of the water floor .

1. and I hang above in the wood floor wrapped in dugout sides ...

4. not moving, or sliding so slowly that an hour must be noticed to trace any distance at all.

4. The canoe passes washed out places of life on the fringes of Sayaxche, people bathing on the mud shores, discarded canoes and launches of bizarre construction. The town itself rises from a bend, the same assortment of green and pink painted wood, metal and palm structures.

1. The road to Flores begins on the northern bank and Sayaxche was constructed on the southern bank. This makes it possible for small ferries and the winch itself to provide an income transporting passengers across La Pasion.

Image from catalogue entry for Allan Vizents' Asleep and Awake - the canoe (?)
Image from catalogue entry for Allan Vizents' Asleep and Awake - the canoe (?) 
Image from catalogue entry for Allan Vizents' Asleep and Awake - street in Coban (?)
Image from catalogue entry for Allan Vizents' Asleep and Awake - street in Coban (?)