In one continuous camera movement, Land of Cockaigne presents a god's eye view of the Sussex Downs, punctuated with choreographed incidents of human activity.
Land of Cockaigne is a video by Rachel Reupke shot directly from the chamber of the camera obscura (Lat. dark room) at Foredown Tower in Portslade Village, Sussex.
In the 1589 edition of his book Magiae Naturalis (Natural Magic), Giambattista della Porta describes using a camera obscura to present audiences with scenes of "Hunting, Battles of Enemies and other delusions", staged in the landscape outside the chamber.
Counterfeit stags, boars, rhinoceros, elephants and lions and extraordinary scenery added detail to the landscapes within which the action took place.
Other showmen used the device to terrify their fee-paying customers with visions of ghosts and demons, which could appear, with uncanny realism, to be standing in the village street outside.
Taking these early accounts of camera obscura entertainments as a starting point, Rachel Reupke stages fictional scenes as live and direct interventions within the landscape.
In Reupke's previous videos, scenes were digitally manipulated and improved to the point of hyperreality, so that contemporary vistas took on an air of the near future. Eschewing these digital production methods, in Land of Cockaigne the pre-cinematic form from which her images are derived, implies that the dialogue is with the apparitions of the past, rather than visions of the future.