Past, Present, Future
Exploring possibilities in time from a finite position
My research for this MA has focused on movement and time. I use PVA glue, which is coloured and poured, at different rates, over a variety of surfaces. The glue continues to move until the very last moment before it dries. This movement is documented with video and these films have developed into studies of flow, time and movement. As with most of my recent exhibitions, this MA show includes an installation with actual flowing glue, alongside a several films which are presented with a projector and a flat screen. There is also extensive documentation of other films, canvases and installations.
At the beginning of this research I wrote about ‘time’ and my desire to specifically investigate ‘the philosophical, theological and scientific understanding of chaotic systems, predictability, journey and narrative’. However ‘time’ seems to be an subject that gets more complicated the more you think about it. I started from a theoretical position which perceived evidence of possibility, openness, change and contingency in time. A particular area of interest was the relationship between time and a biblical understanding of God. Traditionally, God is seen as ‘the unmoved mover’ (Aristotle, Metaphyics) and Einstein’s theory of relativity seems to bring an extra twist, leaving little, if any, room for a God who may experience possibilities in time. The idea of change or contingency would be seen as ‘beneath’ an unchanging, timeless, impersonal reality. However a more biblical understanding, reveals a God who experiences possibilities, a God to whom the future is partly open, indeed a God who experiences and enjoys novelty, adventure, spontaneity, and creativity.
Looking back these themes have been an important influence on my practice, however the more I have explored the medium I work in, PVA glue and video, the more focussed my investigation has become. Once some coloured glue is poured or dripped, the possibilities seem enormous. The direction of movement, the colour interaction, the speed of drying all play a part in the complexity that follows. However, no matter what happens there is always a fascination, a novelty, a spontaneity that is captivating. I have found myself simply noticing and observing what happens in the studio and then noticing and observing what I am noticing and observing!
Although the option to create direct interaction with elements of my work, in particular the films, have been explored, and to some degree successfully resolved; I have avoided launching into this arena wholeheartedly. I have found there are still vast seems of rich potential in retaining a slightly minimal approach to my involvement in the making process. Therefore I don’t feel the work is at an appropriate place to give lots of direct interaction to the audience. However my own involvement in the making of these pieces does seem to have increased. I often spend hours with a canvas as the glue flows, observing the changes and gently intervening, making small degree adjustments to the angles, increasing flow rates and adding more colour, the use of which has remained very intuitive. The making of the films has also developed into far more involved process. However I continue to see my role as the artist as not being one of complete control but more a relational interaction. I have begun to ‘understand’ the glue and can sometimes predict what may happen. At a recent exhibition I was asked do I ‘orchestrate the flowing glue’, I still feel orchestrate is too strong a word.
To put it simply I continue to enjoy the spontaneity, the exploration and the open ended nature of this recent work.
Jonathan Kearney July 2004