Erasing the White Castle

Erasing the White Castle, Erin Coates and Justin Spiers, 2011
infrared video, duration: 4:31 mins
soundtrack by Aidan Baker

Erasing the White Castle is set in a miniaturized Neuschwanstein castle in an abandoned theme park on the fringes of Perth. The Australian bushland has begun to grow back over the site, and no other structures are visible in the shot. It is a single straight shot of the castle, and over the 4:45 minutes of the video there is a time-lapse effect. We see a Mickey Mouse character - an alter ego perhaps - using a roller and paintbrush to transform the castle from white to black, at one point miraculously appearing on the roof, blacking out the watchtower section of the castle. As the castle is painted it becomes indistinguishable from the blackness it is surrounded by, and its form and defensive features appear to erode into the night.

Coates and Spiers' work Erasing the White Castle draws on our idealised notions of home and the idea that 'everyman's house is his castle'. The castle in the video is a more domestically scaled version of the iconic Bavarian (and subsequent Disney) castle on which it is modelled, yet it still has the fortified design of Medieval architecture. The video is shot in infrared, mimicking the security systems that are being increasingly used in contemporary domestic environments, while also referencing the origin of this technology in military surveillance. The atmosphere in the video is that of witnessing a crime or seeing a peculiar military operation in action. This subtle blurring of right and wrong teases at ideas such as the Castle Doctrine, where the use of arms is acceptable in defending private property.

~ Kate Abon, Surface Tension catalogue essay