Daniel Cockburn as part of Tranz Tech's Colin Campbell Sessions at the Latvian House (491 College), Thursday (October 9), 7 pm. email@example.com, 416-351-1317. Rating: NNNNN
Daniel Cockburn is a thinker and a storyteller. "I take people on journeys," he says, smiling through his 'summer beard,' "and they're all short journeys."
The 26-year-old has made a name for himself with a series of five- to 10-minute language-driven narrative video and film works that are very, very smart. His most successful to date, Metronome, is spending 2003 touring festivals in the U.S. and Europe. Like all his films, the subject of Metronome arises from the stuff rattling around in Cockburn's grey matter.
"That's what my work's about. It's me trying to figure myself out. Sometimes I wonder why people would be interested in seeing something about me."
For Tranz Tech, Cockburn was commissioned to do a film for a program honouring late, great Canadian video art pioneer Colin Campbell.
"When they asked me, I didn't know how I was going to be able to do a film about myself and still be respectful. I felt guilty about using Colin's life to do stuff about myself. I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of giants. That's where the idea of the impostor came from."
The Imposter (hello goodbye) is a portrait of a young man using the death of another as an opportunity to grandstand. It's a video about Cockburn's anxiety about making the video.
It was shot in a single 18-minute take; then he split the screen and put the first nine minutes on the left side and the second nine on the right. As a result, Cockburn plays the roles of both the monologist (his word) delivering an introspective eulogy and the projectionist who destroys the film after it's projected.
At the end, Cockburn the monologist steps back to take the place of Cockburn the projectionist, and Cockburn the projectionist steps forward to take the place of Cockburn the monologist. It's a never-ending story that starts with the line "please stop me, and/or forgive me if you've heard this one before."
We finish the interview, but a few minutes later Cockburn suddenly emerges from thought to answer a question I'd posed an hour earlier.
"I think I know how I justify asking people to give up their time to watch my work - I try to entertain them," he says, pausing before adding, "I think that thinking is entertaining."