Tracing the Decay of Fiction

"Tracing the Decay of Fiction" (2002) is an interactive installation by Pat O'Neill. It was shown during the IFFR 2003.

Tracing the Decay of Fiction

Tracing the Decay of Fiction; still

Based on Pat O’Neill’s 35 mm film, The Decay of Fiction (2002), this interactive project is an archeological exploration of the Hotel Ambassador, a vintage building now in ruins. Erected in 1920, the hotel played a crucial role in the development of Los Angeles and its urban sprawl. Well known for its glamorous Cocoanut Grove nightclub where Hollywood stars and movie moguls mingled with foreign dignitaries and downtown power brokers, the Ambassador was also the site of one of our nation’s most disturbing events—the 1968 assassination of Democratic Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy.

Visitors wander through these abandoned rooms encountering cultural traces of the historical traumas and personal dramas that occurred there. Either they navigate within O’Neill’s original camera moves, or slide from one adjacent zone into another, or use the original designs of architect Myron Hunt (with detailed descriptions of each location in voice-over) to go directly to a specific room. Inside the hotel, the borders between past and present are deliberately blurred. Sometimes contemporary images are combined with dialogue from vintage movies and radio dramas, and modern voices are paired with period prints and newsreels. At other times old and new images are inextricably fused, as if ghostly figures and voices lie deeply embedded within the hotel’s decaying surfaces. Once outside the hotel on the city’s celebrated "Miracle Mile," a stark contrast emerges between vintage stills and contemporary digital footage, especially when accompanied by provocative commentaries from noted cultural theorists (including Michael Dear, David James, Norman Klein, and Kevin Starr) speaking about the history of Los Angeles.


Tracing the Decay of Fiction: Encounters with a Film by Pat O'Neill uploaded by Kristy Kang on Vimeo.



Nederlands / Dutch text

Deze interactieve installatie is gebaseerd op O'Neills The Decay of Fiction. Bezoekers van de installatie kunnen dwalen door het historische Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, dat op het punt staat gesloopt te worden. Het gebouw deed dienst als locatie voor vele films (noir), J. Edgar Hoover was er vaste gast en de Cocoanut Grove Bar was het startpunt voor menige Hollywood-carrière: Joan Crawford werd er ontdekt tijdens een danswedstrijd en Marilyn Monroe won er een missverkiezing in zwemtenue.

De hotelkamers zijn op drie grote schermen te zien. Soms zijn het dezelfde ruimtes, soms verschillen ze. Bezoekers kunnen door middel van drie muizen invloed uitoefenen op de verhaallijnen: ze kunnen bepalen of de kamers leeg zijn, dan wel bewoond worden door spookachtige figuren en mysterieuze stemmen. Ook kan er genavigeerd worden door talloze archiefbeelden van het hotel en de omgeving, die van commentaar worden voorzien door historici. Door de gezamenlijke navigatie van de bezoekers, in combinatie met de geluidseffecten op de achtergrond, ontstaat er een intrigerend en verleidelijk web van fictie, documentaire en ‘urban myth’.

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