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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathImmersion/Participation
Electric Earth (Aitken, Doug), 1999Anne, Aki and God (Ahtila, Eija-Liisa), 1998

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intensifying those already familiar techniques. (Fig. 6) Aitken sends visitors on a fictitious journey through image scenarios that resemble arcades, turning the illusionary impact into the actual optical vanishing point. Like mirages, his cinematic landscapes open up into overwhelming panoramas, creating the kind of delirious visual and spatial experiences that one has when under the influence of drugs. This experience may best be described with the word vaste (from Baudelaire’s Poem of Hashish), which describes a sense of boundlessness and immeasurability, the fascination of entering «another reality» without actually leaving the coordinates of the «real world.» This immersive attribute, which is vital to the experience of many Internet users, who, as virtual figures, navigate artificially generated spatial systems, becomes a horizon of cultural experience in Aitken’s video installations, the pictorial rhetoric of which defies frame and space. Surrounded by screens composed in equal parts of cinephile projections of exotic, mysterious settings and urban landscapes, the audience succumbs to the engrossing vortex of pictorial magic. His installations do not really aim to


reveal the workings of cinematic illusion, but rather to conjure the experiential character of the absolute presence of screen events, allowing visitors to shine in the glory of a film scene, so that they feel an electrifying effect, described by the protagonist in Aitken’s «Metallic Sleep/Electric Earth» (1999) as the ultimate unification with his environment when dancing: «A lot of times I dance so fast that I become what surrounds me, that’s like food, that’s like I absorb the images, absorb the information, that’s like I eat it. That’s the only now I get.« [20]

Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila aspires to a vortex effect of a completely different quality: the hallucinatory scenes of her video installations suggest to the visitors, who themselves are props in the installation, that they are to become players in the theatrical staging—see «Anne, Aki and God» (1998). While the audience members watch the video images of unhappy actors, following their often-confessional stories, they are transformed into accomplices in the intimate, melancholy, and highly dramatic psychological

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