Stephen Walters, Psyche Room (50,000,000 Year Trip)

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Stephen Walters, Psyche Room (50,000,000 Year Trip) September 10 – October 15, 2005 Opening Reception September 9, 8 pm, Artist’s Talk: September 17, 2005

Access Artist Run Centre is proud to present Psyche Room (50,000,000 Year Trip) by local emerging artist Stephen Walters. This is Walters’ first solo show.

This exhibition, incorporating video, photography and installation, pivots on Walter’s transformation of the gallery into a psyche room, or cyclorama: a white-washed room (often used in film and television) in which the walls and corners are curved to meet the floor. Standing in the psyche room, the viewer experiences the illusion of floating in space; there appear to be no spatial limitations.

Most simply put, Psyche Room (50,000,000 Year Trip) is an attempt to recreate for Vancouver audiences a sense of the independently-powered “generator parties” from the artist’s youth in the Southern California Desert. Beginning in the late 1960s, a subculture arose which found freedom and creative expression in remote party sites in the California desert. These sites eventually gave way to a unique and independent youth culture, whose hung gatherings were characterized with performances by “desert stoner” rock bands like Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Marrying 70s-era psychedelia with spacey jams and down-tuned guitars played through bass amps, the music and the culture — enhanced by the unrestrained locale — created for participants a transcendent feeling of infinite space. Using a generator, reflective foil (commonly used in the desert to block intense sunlight), documentary photographs, and the psyche room installation, Walters’ work will provide both a surrogate “generator party” site and a meditation on the intense nostalgia associated with these now-defunct, utopic sites of freedom and isolation.

Repositioned in Vancouver’s “Terminal City” context, the ideas surrounding these social and cultural phenomena find new meaning. As Vancouver’s “way-out-there” reputation slowly gives way to narratives of economics growth, demographic shift and cultural ambition, the artist’s central question, “Just what is there to do out here?” becomes an ironic lamentation, of sorts, for the frontier stories that have in the past influenced West Coast mythologies.