Ersatz Gardens

UHD 4k video in fullspectrum and ultraviolet
2021

Ersatz Gardens is an experimental short film about an entangled garden of vision and abstraction, experience and memory, the real and the fake. Perceptual twists transform the garden into a psychological space of images, ideas, time, and economic fragments shaken from both their historical and natural orders.

Footage has been shot after hours in Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny and a nearby 18th century garden of the Physiocrats—a group whose name means “government of nature” and who were the first thinkers to systematize economics. In the Physiocratic view, the “natural order” governed human relations; value came from the land, from agriculture; and artisans were “unproductive appendages.” The video is filmed in the unproductive part of the garden, a garden labyrinth for reflection rather than agricultural products. This estate of the Physiocrats was also visited by the “father of modern capitalism,” Adam Smith; he learned from them an their work and drew heavily on the Physiocrats’ idea that the economy was a circular process.

To these gardens, anti-counterfeiting features from currency such as the British 20-pound note featuring Adam Smith, and credit cards have been added. Anti-counterfeiting features frequently appear in ultraviolet light. While pigeons and doves—a bird which also appears on the Visa card—can see in UV humans ordinarily cannot. However, if the lens of the eye is removed it is possible to see into the UV spectrum. Claude Monet had this procedure carried out in 1923, after which time his paintings are said to have taken a notable turn towards the violet, as Monet always endeavored to “paint what you really see.”