Past Deposits from a Future Yet to Come

Buttons, plates, marbles, bottles, coins, bullets, keys and other historic artifacts are suspended in a rhythmic free fall, a choreographed parade, in Past Deposits from a Future Yet to Come (2024), a new public video art installation by internationally renowned artists Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, and commissioned by Waterloo Greenway Conservancy for Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park. Teresa Hubbard (b. 1965, Ireland) and Alexander Birchler (b. 1962, Switzerland) have worked collaboratively since 1990, and they are among the most important contemporary artists working with film and new media. Past Deposits will be shown nightly at Waterloo Park for five years, except evenings when a special event is scheduled.

In considering a soundtrack for Past Deposits, Hubbard / Birchler chose a hybrid approach embracing the existing sounds present in Waterloo Park and commissioning the creation of a musical score for instruments and voice by Alex Weston. The musical score is synchronized to the video installation and can be listened to over any personal mobile device in the park on the evenings when the work is presented. On March 2, the score was performed live with a musical ensemble and singers.

The artifacts featured in Past Deposits were discovered by archaeologists on the site of what is now Waterloo Park and Waller Creek in Austin, Texas. Hubbard / Birchler spent more than a year studying the historic artifacts from Waller Creek and rendered these objects into incredibly detailed, monumentally scaled image projections. The colossal-sized objects orbit one another with synchronous and asynchronous movements set against a dark void and fill the entire 16 x 120 foot wall of Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park.

Past Deposits reminds us of the people who lived and worked alongside Waller Creek, evoking a contemplation of a much longer, deep history of all of the lives lived along the banks of the creek. These histories are revivified through an array of artifacts, each touched by human hands, that were buried under layers of earth during the numerous torrential floods that swept through the Waller Creek area time and time again. Taking the repetition of these natural occurrences as a point of departure, the artifacts featured in Past Deposits are caught in a continuous flow, adrift in a current or stream, offering a visual meditation on the notion of time itself, questioning whether time is linear or a continuum, whereby past, present, and future intermingle.

Facilitating critical contemplation around our shared pasts and possible futures, Past Deposits also foregrounds the ways in which we know and understand our world. The artists relied upon basic principles of organization – subject matter, material composition, and function – resisting systems of hierarchy to choreograph the parade of artifacts. These traces of everyday life, which may be seen as simple discards by some, are given new value, becoming ciphers for a past that is present all around us.