Illuminate

At the very beginning of this field lab we were shown a film by artist Bas Jan Ader: Nightfall. This work really resonated me not only in his clever use of light but in the way he handled and used matter and force. The heavy rock Ader struggles with is as equally responsible as Ader for the final performative outcome; Ader, the rock and gravity work collaboratively as equal partners. The piece seemed to delve into the limits of the human body; in fine art practice I think there is a prevelant idea that the artist is someone that commands materials, bends them to human will in order to make and produce something. In the New Materialisms Constellation class we’ve been reading the theories of Ingold, Malafouris and Abram dispelling hylomorphism and recognising the agency of materials and matter, I think this has helped me to view and understand this work in a different way. I’m fascinated by Ader’s exploration of the collaboration between man, matter and force and how the work would be totally changed if any one of those elements was slightly changed. If hypothetically Ader had conducted the performance on say the moon where the gravity was different, it would not have worked. If hypothetically Ader had conducted the performance with a feather, it would not have worked. If Ader had not been present at all, it would not have worked. The success of the performance is wholly and equally dependant on the presence of all three elements with all their properties and attributes. I find this so incredibly clever.

I want to think of making, instead, as a process of growth. This is to place the maker from the outset as a participant in amongst a world of active materials. These materials are what he has to work with, and in the process of making he ‘joins forces’ with them, bringing them together or splitting them apart, synthesising and distilling, in anticipation of what might emerge (Ingold, 2013, p. 21).

 

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