The Comfort Suite - A Video in Four Parts

Rae Staseson

1996, 09:40 minutes, colour, English


"The Comfort Suite - A Video in Four Parts" consists of four segments connected by shared images and themes. Each individually titled segment presents an exploration of ideas about nostalgia, learning and observation. A series of recurring images of precious objects comprises a de facto inventory of childhood memories. Items of significance, including a prom dress, a toy bear, and figurines, are arranged as though sorting through a collection of personal artifacts. In three of the segments the images are juxtaposed with sound references to systems of instruction. Each system, however, becomes increasingly cacophonous, creating an unsettling relation to these icons of "comfort".
"Test", a swimming pool performance is edited with the aforementioned images, while a male voice offers training tips on typing. In "Duet", a child like recitation of the alphabet is disrupted by its simultaneous reading forward and backwards, as the appearance of that inventory of memorabilia accelerates to the point of chaos. "Bounce" continues this "discomfort", with a short disorienting p.o.v. shot on a diving platform, complemented not with a soothing voice of authority, but with the screeches of birds. Finally, "Sight", with its absent audio track, provides a break and this silence draws our attention back to our own process of observation. This segment continues to address procedures of testing and instruction with its decontextualization of standard eye exams.
In total, all segments introduce hints of security only to corrupt them; the intentionally ironic title invites the viewer to both participate in a training exercise as well as its destruction.

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