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Cold Morning: Trilogy

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In this trilogy of short films, Canadian artist Mark Lewis returns to his exploration of urban landscapes to create a tableau of Toronto scenes in winter that are both familiar and engagingly elusive. 

By turning his unblinking lens on the quotidian interactions of people in their environment, Lewis probes a compelling experiential narrative. Contextualized by the modernist architectural environment in which his chosen subjects move, these contemplative films examine the influence of the urban fabric and, to a lesser extent, climate, on our lives. 

Lewis is more than a passive observer of life around him. His fascination with structuralist cinema traditions conveys a nuanced and layered referencing of film techniques, from the verisimilitude of an unedited, one-take composition (Cold Morning) to the deliberately artificial rendering of rear projection (Nathan Phillips Square). Whether employing actors and individuals or casting the city as protagonist (TD Centre, 54th Floor), Lewis brings to each film a meditative grace in which time can seem to stand still. This is heightened by the fact that each work is silent, thereby compelling the viewer to focus on Lewis’ spatial explorations achieved through his use of static and moving cameras. 

In Nathan Phillips Square, a couple's frolicking courtship on skates is made dreamlike by the visually contrasting realities of foreground and background. The gritty, sidewalk start to the day for a homeless man struggling to bring order to his environment is the subject of Cold Morning. And an impassive surveillance of the cityscape from on high in TD Centre, 54th Floor shows street life at a poetic distance.
Cold Morning was commissioned by the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House, University of Toronto. Cold Morning was produced by Mark Lewis Studio Inc. in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada. This work was commissioned to represent Canada at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

2009, 18 min 12 s