“We are living databases of images – collectors of images – and these images do not stop transforming and growing once they get inside us.” Bill Viola[i]
Where do images fit in to a conception of time? Are they easier to remember than lived experiences? Do I recall the photograph of a situation more easily than the experience? Why would that happen? Does that change the neural networks in my brain? As a neural charge leap-frogs from fixed, hard, superficial engram to engram. Do these block the soft textual nuances of lived experience or are they just mnemonic devices. Is this all just an idea? A misguided idea? Where is this strange virtual world between what is seen and what is believed? Who has shaped these perceptions? Where can I find everything I’ve seen? Is there no record of it, or is there record? Is it accessible? Or do the moments soften and collapse, melding like a scar tissue leaving only vague lumps of mixed up data?
And what of desire? Where does this come from? Is it coerced or is it what it is? Have images shaped this?
As my exploration of time and duration developed I started looking at pictorial, romantic approaches to art making. For detail is everywhere and these images can stop us in our tracks, transfixed in the headlights of mindless mind games.
In this durational installation, a short-looped video is projected into a cut-out white shape of a frame taken from the painting An Allegory with Venus and Time (1754-8) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The image in the frame is of my hand reaching into blue water and there is a gentle movement of the sun-drenched turquoise water lapping over the hand which creates a strangely beatific moment set inside the image of this gold-gilded frame. The background of the work is created with wall paper from Cole & Sons, creating an overall kitsch display that oozes a kind of privilege.
There is a surreal but erotic notion, that hints at some unattainable perfection. There is a direct link back to Tiepolo’s depiction of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, desire and fertility. And it seems relevant to note that Time is visualised in his painting for without birth and consciousness where would duration exist at all?
But it begins to feel political, dressed in the fabric of the society that created it, the wall paper, the luxury to ruminate on time at all, to have that much time. There’s a self-consciousness here, my doubts summed up by John Baldessari before he found an altruistic justification for his work: “I always had this idea that doing art was just a masturbatory activity and didn’t really help anybody…”[ii]. Is such a thing possible? Or is it more helpful to think of making work in the way of John Cage, as a ‘purposeless play’, an affirmation of life rather than trying to order chaos?
Formal considerations to develop include covering the entire wall with wall paper so that there is no image boundary around the wall paper itself. And to enhance the poor transmission from the computer to projector that created a seemingly random and sporadic digital glitch in the projection.
[i] Bill Viola, The Passions, ed John Walsh (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), 199, 210. In Nymphs p061 by Giorgio Agamben in Khalip, J. & Mitchell, R., 2011, Releasing the image: from literature to new media, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California