The Corruption of Time’s Dust

At the time that James Rosenquist completed Time Dust (1992), it was hailed a technical “tour de force” – a combination of colour lithography, screenprinting, relief, etching, stamping and collage – that culminated a series of graphic pop works with the same inspiration. What strikes me today is that it is a print so large that it cannot be seen with any significant detail on a computer screen.

Richard Fedoruk’s drawings depict a similar
delirious space, but through an athletic
execution where the hand acts like a
machine, laying several passes of ink over
the surface of the image like an inkjet printer.
What is an image of the passing moment,
the movement of the mind through a series
of abstract thoughts, is devotionally rendered
– containing the heaviness of real time, a
real time that is at the sacrifice to the instant.

This direct obfuscation was really a result of his place in the time that he was depicting –1995 is when the first color image hit the PC market. While both the process of making such an image and the very content of this image seem obsolete in a sense, Time Dust may comprise a fragment of evidence for a past visual and spatial conception of delirium – both as a psychological phenomenon and as a philosophical proposition. In this past version of delirium, the things of our everyday world simply float lawlessly in a disjointed and effortless space-scape. It is as if the failure of montage to create a realistic and convincing image bore a new space within which all variety of objects could exist independent of each other in an equal manner. The space could even provide for its own disruption and destruction while maintaining its fundamental character. Here was a space where causality could unfold but narrative could not occupy. The viewer is to feel consumed by the sheer size of the space, while the artist is somehow able to objectify the space from a privileged imagined view; Rosenquist is literally stepping outside of time and history, collapsing it all into a single plane of the image.

Sylvain Sailly was the first to draw my attention
to the work of Robert Abel and associates,
whose pioneering animations for film and
advertising did much for the proto-digital
imaginary. Some of Sylvain’s work is very much
concerned with the perception and physicality of
scientific diagrams and how they can dramatize
the obscured consequences of their actual
states. In this process of dramatization, tropes
and metaphors are often employed to draw out a
kind of cultural unconscious of images, objects,
machines, and movements

Advertising was, at the time, experiencing a parallel process where the integration of a variety of techniques (copystand photography, graphic illustration, product photography) seemed to spawn a new imaginative space. This hyper-visual and striking form of advertising seems to depict single instances of delirium, where an arrangement of suggestive products formed the tension of the unknown future. It is as if the evolution of the craft of integrated media made it possible to form, if not an image of the digital age, at least a dramatization of its arrival. Time seemed to freeze momentarily before the ultimate collapse of all images with the invasion of the computer. Delirium is evoked to depict a moment that seems aware of its own historical significance.

By using materials that are designed for very
specific purposes, and by repurposing them to
create sculpture that is concerned with
atmosphere, I’ve often thought of Tegan Moore’s
work as a process of freeing the very particular
from its hard and singular function, and allowing
the material to idly create in an ephemeral way.
This process of sublimation – the transformation
from the solid to the air – suggests a passage in
which all material can experience of itself.

In the narrative version, narrative time stops and the lead character steps out of the scene, addressing the audience directly and spot-lit while the rest of the scene is frozen and blanketed in shadow (other actors sway in the darkness trying to act frozen). It is a space that is thought to always be present, not running alongside but perpendicular to real
time. Here is a geometrical departure, which narrative seems to require. To be able to step away but still hold the whole is not just the work of the screen but informs the design of the scene idea.

The evidence of human presence is reduced to
the signifiers of person identification in the recent
work of Nadia Belerique. It is less about the
missing body and more about the possibility of
physical presence through the act of a medium’s
capturing. This presence is further blended into
the object of the artwork, where footprints and
fingerprints are perceived to come out of some
mishandling. The staging of this mishandling
and its actual making is a performance of its own
revelation – an unmasking of the double identity
of the artist.

To Deleuze, consciousness exists exterior to the ego – the self exists as a multitude of “larval selves”, each of which exist in a manner independently from the ego as a whole. These larval selves act as minor awarenesses in the discontinuous sensorium. Delirium is the means of achieving awareness of this disunity of the self and the world. In both cases of images mentioned previously, the self consists of a drone of banalities whose glossy surfaces and visual attractiveness belie a more sordid nature, in the case of advertising, and a more problematic position in regard to the depiction of images and time, in the case of Time Dust.

“During one of Simpson's many deliriums, he experiences a very strong reminiscence of a Boney M song he hated thoroughly, "Brown Girl in the Ring"; at one point thinking "Bloody hell, I'm going to die to Boney M"”– Touching the Void (2003)

How can this drone rise up again but differently? Through what lens does it appear to have life? How is the dust of delirium gathered and recast in a different composition?

A composition of different kinds of time, evidenced by varying
degrees of resolution or surface treatment, tapering off in one
direction and flooded in another. Steven Hubert’s work often
strikes me as residing in a space where the fleeting moment
coincides with its formal afterlife. The questions arise:
how does it sit among others? Does it thrive or ruin? The way
that things enhance, diminish, alter, or generate one another
becomes the structure which casually holds the whole together.

This text was first published on the occasion of the exhibition The Corruption of Time’s Dust in 11″ x 17″ tabloid format.

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