September 10–October 27, 2021
To view the work, visit the website here.
HD Video (originally IMAX)
8:28, color, sound
Cityscape is one of the family of my works dealing with camera motion, an interest dating back to Wavelength. My friend Graeme Ferguson, one of the originators of IMAX, suggested doing a version of La Région Centrale (1971) in that format after seeing the film, but for me the idea held little interest. I felt La Région Centrale was complete and I had accomplished my purpose.
Years later, I was approached again to make a short film with IMAX, now in digital format. This time, instead of a landscape film, vast and unpopulated, I was interested in looking at my own city through a more linear view. The part of Toronto visible in Cityscape is actually rarely seen by its citizens. We seldom think of Lake Ontario at the foot of Yonge Street, but the skyline viewed from the islands just offshore is interesting. The title makes clear that the city is the subject.
In Cityscape, camera movements—panning and rotating at different speeds—activate the city skyline. The soundtrack is built on the “Amen Brother” drum break, which is central to Drum and Bass and Hip Hop, an expression of the energy of the city. The sound uses playback speed as a compositional element, rhythmically in sync with the camera movements.
Although Cityscape is shot in color, its muted concrete tones link closely with the material monochromatism of Ready Mix, composed with a striking tonal palette. In these and La Région Centrale, camera movement drives the structure subtly but in substantial ways. The latter is cosmic, spanning twenty-four hours and the entire firmament. Cityscape is an urban landscape and appropriately scaled. Ready Mix looks closely at the narrative of turning rock into concrete and is resolutely earthbound.
Michael Snow was born in Toronto in 1928 and is a filmmaker and artist.