Heaven’s Gate is a monumental new work by video artist Marco Brambilla. A lavish, satirical and vertigo-inducing meditation on the Hollywood Dream Factory, Heaven’s Gate is a work of digital psychedelia employing the same state-of-the-art computer compositing technology as the ﬁlms it references.
In a totem-like display of screens, the viewer travels through a vertical landscape of inﬁnitely-looping and collaged ﬁlm samples, led upwards through a series of seven surreal landscapes. The panoramas are arranged vertically into a digital totem, in which the monument of our worship questions human nature’s relationship to consumption and excess. Film characters and fantastical set pieces are transformed into inﬁnitely looping memes, trapped in time as media sculptures and removed from their original context; now inhabiting a hyper-sensory parallel universe where the lines between gaming, news, reality TV, and Hollywood are part of the same human epic.
The title refers to Michael Cimino’s 1980 film whose excessive production costs bankrupted United Artists and effectively brought to an end the era of the director as auteur, paving the way for the studio domination of the medium, which has continued to the present day. The work re-appropriates the language of pop culture to depict the tensions present in religion, industry and celebrity: ascension and fall, innocence and experience, vanity and pageantry, sexuality and awakening, simplicity and excess.
Employing spectacle to describe the hollowness of spectacle,Heaven’s Gate enacts Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase, ‘the medium is the message’. Through this absorbing work, Brambilla highlights the sensory overload of today’s compendium of popular culture to engulf the viewer’s senses with a hyper-saturation of imagery almost impossible to sustain.