Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Body Lying in the Heather

One night when I had tasted bitterness in my mouth I went out on to the hill. Dark heather checked my feet…Two lights for guidance. First our little glowing atom of community, with all that it signifies. The second, the cold light of the stars, symbol of the hypercosmical reality, with its crystal ecstasy.

Duncan Marquiss, Midday, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Olaf Stapledon’s science fiction novel Star Maker (1937) begins with the mysterious freeing of the unnamed protagonist’s consciousness from the confines of his body. Newly unencumbered, our narrator departs suburbia for distant solar systems, sprawling galaxies and alien civilisations. As he journeys the narrator’s psyche is revealed as an endlessly malleable entity, dividing and expanding, merging with individual and group minds to eventually play its minute role in forming a vast cosmical consciousness. In this remarkable work Stapleton recounts the history of the universe as seen through the prism of an individual mind.

In the year 2000 a stone circle was erected in Milton Keynes. Titled ‘The Circle of Hearts Medicine Wheel’, it consists of two concentric circles of stones with longer stones positioned at each compass point. Situated on the energy line said to run through Midsummer Boulevard in the centre of Milton Keynes, this modern Neolithic structure accesses Pagan traditions and pre-Christian resonances. It is during the short period of Midsummer that this ancient ley line becomes visible, as the sun rises in precise alignment with Midsummer Boulevard, Avebury Boulevard and Silbury Boulevard. Built to mark the millennium and intended as a meeting place for the city’s residents, the monument brings the presence of deep time to an urban environment seemingly lacking an extended history of its own.

The summer solstice marks the day on which the axial tilt of the Earth, in a given hemisphere, is most inclined towards the Sun: an astronomical happening that signifies an extremity of light, a marker of time and movement through the seasons. These films have been bought together to coincide with this event. Each work has a complexity linked through the interplay of light and the self against, before and within the film/video medium. In Lucy Reynolds’s Lake (Nocturne) artificial light plays eerily across a landscape we cannot situate, the uncanny effect directing us to a world played for film and the world outside of it. Duncan Marquiss’s two videos, Midday and Late Cinema, flicker across the screen, drawing our bodies in as the oscillation of images strikes our nervous systems. Sarah Pucill’s Blind Light is rendered with great economoy, as the substance of film is so exceeded by light, touch and feeling. The work provokes the suspension of the everyday world, as image, as the body and psyche ceaselessly coalesce and break away.  In Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth’s If You Can’t See My Mirrors I Can’t See You we are in turns suspended, as real and virtual spaces enmesh, encircling objects and subjectivities, in a feedback loop of the artists making.

We have a desire to begin to unpack the relations between imagined psychical space and our bodies in this place. On the lightest day we arrive weighed down with a projector, discs and neat spirals of film. Our lived experience is of body and image enfolded into the world. Film produces, through a unique combination of dichotomies (light/dark, visual/sound, past/present), a disjuncture between the two. As once began a lecture on film given by the ineffable Hollis Frampton, ‘we are, shall we say, comfortably seated. We may remove our shoes, if that will help us to remove our bodies’1.

1 Hollis Frampton, A Lecture. New York, 1968.

Laura Guy & Elsa Richardson, 2012

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