Features

Freeze Frame: A Sense of Wonder Under a Bridge

Nettie Wild’s ‘Uninterrupted’

Photo by Anthony Diehl, courtesy Canada Wild Productions


Casual passersby and those in the know are being entranced every evening this summer with a colourful light-and-sound spectacle under Vancouver’s Cambie Street Bridge. Huge images, some abstract and others more identifiable as swiftly moving salmon, are being projected onto the bridge’s pillars, spans and the undercarriage of the road above. Accompanied by ethereal music, this gorgeous piece replicates the sense of awe one gets while watching nature at its best.

Photo by Kirk Tougas, courtesy Canada Wild Productions

“Our best review so far was from a three year old, who managed to crawl up onto one of the play structures, which is right in the middle of the viewing space. He had found the key place to be, and when the first image came up, he started to yell, “AHHHHHHH.” And he kept it up. We were blowing his circuits; it was sheer delight,” says Nettie Wild, the creator of Uninterrupted.

One of Canada’s finest documentarians, Wild has made something new and very different from such acclaimed earlier works as A Place Called Chiapas and A Rustling of Leaves. Those award winners were beautifully structured social justice documentaries. With Uninterrupted, she has taken up the challenge of being primarily—at least for this piece—a visual artist, without losing her doc roots.

When asked to explain the piece, Wild replies, “It’s very loosely structured on the life cycle of the sockeye salmon. The first fish you see are the baby fry, who grow into the fabulous “chromes,”—the silver fish that you eat—and they’re the fastest athletes in the ocean; they’re amazing. They migrate back up the rivers and turn back into freshwater fish, and the sockeye turn red and green. The males develop a humpback and a hooked nose. They go on this tremendous journey, and when they finally come back to where they were born, they spawn and die.”

But Wild is quick to point out that audience surveys are showing that no one really cares about the story. “Uninterrupted is informed by science, but its job is not to lecture. I figured that my role as an artist was to create a cinematic experience that would deliver the wonder of it all.”

Wild is quick to give credit to her collaborators, the key ones being editor Michael Brockington, technical director Anthony Diehl, producers Rae Hull and Betsy Carson, cinematographers Athan Merick and Nick Teichrob, composer Owen Belton, sound designer Velcrow Ripper and the technology firm VYV. “It’s not the same as being on a doc shoot,” says Wild. Her public art installation required cooperation from a large crew. But at the head of Uninterrupted is one person: Nettie Wild, artist and documentarian.

Uninterrupted runs until September 24 in Vancouver.
Learn more about the project here.