looking back to see

Sarah Abbott

2001, 19:50 minutes, colour, English


Filmed while riding her bike, Looking Back to See is a journey through a dreary, artificial landscape accompanied by ghostly sounds that speak of escape at the same time that they remind us of worlds that have been paved over "to make life better." Looking Back to See is the first in a series of videos known as Bicycle Diaries, which Abbott filmed while riding her bike.

Looking Back to See situates the viewer as a passenger on a journey through a bleak but very familiar landscape. From a fixed and vulnerable viewpoint, Abbott's tape articulates the fragile presence of an individual who is part of an urban setting but at the same time is threatened by a place that appears hostile and unaccommodating. With its simple structure and potent layering of dialogue and sound, Looking Back to See imbues a mundane landscape with the poetic musings of the narrator and a soundscape that is often intriguingly disorienting. Abbott's work is an elegant reflection on the struggle of the individual within contemporary urban culture." -Andrew Hunter, Canadian Artist and Curator

Sarah is aware of how real-time has been used in video historically, but she has found her own way of using dreams and memories to transform this profoundly literal medium into a time machine for seeing again in ways we can hardly remember" -Tom Sherman, Media Artist/Theorist

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