The Gaze | Joy Ride by Francis LeBouthillier

Francis LeBouthillier, Joy Ride, 2012.

What do we look at – and why? In The Gaze, an exhibition of experimental, or narrative-based, interactive short films, eight artists present engaging and thought provoking interpretations of “looking.” View the videos on the digital screens in Mississauga Celebration Square! Screening schedule is on the AGM website.

Over the next few weeks, the AGM blog will feature guest posts by The Gaze artists, revealing the conceptual framework behind their videos.

Joy Ride by Francis LeBouthillier 

Is the everyday bump and grind getting to you? Well, it got to me. Joy Ride was inspired by the experience of being employed in a middle management position. By the end of my term, I learned that there was only so much that one could do within a given situation. It became very apparent that what was happening in my environment was beyond my control. As with most of my art projects, the motivation for a work comes out of a need to represent and make tangible a given situation that has challenged me. The process of making art allows me to gain a better understanding of aspects of my life that otherwise would reside in a state of the unresolved.  It is my hope that the subject matter that I engage with moves beyond the idiosyncratic impetus and begins to resonate and have meaning with the broader public as they interact with the work.

Joy Ride invites you into an office cubicle to observe the actions and reactions of a bureaucrat in a peculiar environment. The video is shot in a way that locates the audience as an invisible presence in the room. Are you secretly spying on this person or are you upper management reviewing a surveillance recording? In slapstick fashion, the bureaucrat attempts to go about his daily routine. In the viewing of this work, does the audience allow themselves to vicariously experience the absurdity of this character’s roller-coaster world with joy and laughter by allowing the visual and experiential queues to transport them into this unsettling world of skewed equilibrium and uncontrolled inertia? Or does the audience choose to maintain the stance of “just looking”; not engaging with these office antics and reside within the position of the critical observer?

In order to create the Joy Ride video, I constructed an office (walls, ceiling, & lighting), furnished it and installed it all in an actual cube van. I hired a stunt driver to drive the cube van around while I was inside, performing as the “bureaucrat”. The dynamic movements and gravitational shifts within the office were real-time occurrences and documented by a video camera that was fixed into the back portion of the van. When we began shooting the video, I must say that the whole experience was quite frightening; the chaos and being out of control was terrifying. As the shoot progressed, I became quite accustomed to the goings on and it became much like riding public transit. The window view sequence was recorded separately and was digitally inserted into the background.

Joy Ride was originally produced for LEITMOTIF, an exhibition of artist projects in cube vans that was curated by Stuart Keeler. This exhibition was part of the 2012 Nuit Blanche, an all-night art event in Toronto.

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About The Gaze

The Art Gallery of Mississauga, in partnership with the City of Mississauga’s Culture Division, publicized a Call for Artists to submit proposals of experimental, or narrative-based, interactive short films. A total of 8 works were selected that helped define, broaden and contribute to the philosopher Jacques Lacan’s concept of distinguishing between the eye’s look and THE GAZE.

View the schedule on our website.

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