This text by ALEX BOWRON was published alongside JON SASAKIS A Vague Sense of an Impending Something exhibition.
Some Things That May Or May Not Relate
by Alex Boron
“Fields are also usually not limited, and they give the appearance of sections cut from something indefinitely larger.” (Donald Judd)
“The work is often a general koan into how we go about forming this world in which we live, in particular with seeing” (James Turrell)
The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses (oxforddictionaries.com)
The faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality (dictionary.com)
The faculty of entertaining abstract and unconventional thoughts, be creative and resourceful, and follow gut feelings (my own)
As a tool for converting internal thought into tangible representation and action, imagination combines what the brain knows is possible with what it wishes were possible in order to create a new version of the pre-existing reality. An imaginative approach is to observe (particularly what is generally overlooked), dismantle (both literally and conceptually) and redesign (especially by ignoring limitations).
Imaginability Conceivability Possibility
A little bit of math: When applied using set theory, possibility becomes a superset of imaginability and coneceivability because all ellements of imaginability and all ellements of conceivability are also contained within possibility. In other words: imagination precedes possibility.
It seems natural then, that a creative practice not only observes and highlights, but utilizes life’s inherent absurdity. The crooked seam that we stich between what we accept or (think we) know to be true and what we imagine or wish were true, forms a narrative that prides itself on the great beauty of a gentle lie. Perhaps our integrity hangs by a thread, or perhaps the ability to tell a lie is what saves us from succumbing to the incredible tragedy of our own mortality, allowing us instead to laugh in its face and embrace life’s perpetual line-up of spectacular anti-climaxes.
- Brainstorm: observe; observe closely; think big; indulge your imagination; invent grand/absurd gestures that illustrate what you see/how you think/how you feel
- Research: discern facts & history; ask: is it possible? does that matter? source and secure materials, participants, assistants, location & funding
- Execute: build, problem-solve, tinker, rebuild; record & monitor your progress; remain aware; consider your audience; immerse yourself
- Exhibit: show other people what you’ve don; respond to the space (both immediate and surrounding); allow for chance and change; encourage interaction and/or participation
- Conclude: reflect; repeat
So much of the process is unglamorous. The result: a single emotive action represented through its leftovers. At times, it is a given. At other times, a lonely struggle. What can be said for a lifetime of taking on ever bigger and more ridiculous projects? In the moment there is frustration: patience is tested, physical limits are pushed and met, humour is overwrought with tension. Afterwards, all of that is forgotten in favour of basking in the outcome. Hindsight can be bliss.
We exploded the countdown device and now we can no longer count down to the explosion.
A time piece. A clock set to 24 hours in the future where tomorrow’s time is indistinguishable from todays is exploded, dismantled, reprogrammed and repurposed. This new fragmented time piece asserts itself through a blinding light that unabashedly fills its surrounding space, causing diaphanous spots and temporary flash blindness. It is a form of art-induced amaurosis. Or, perhaps it is nothing more than wishful apophenia: a determination to encourage the seeing of patterns where there is actually only noise. Making sense of the what we have come to call chaos involves an omniscient overview that understands time spread out in the same way space is: in all directions and so natural in its geometry that our own modest gestures towards order appear awkward, even laughable. What we have learned is to soothe the fear of getting stuck in tight quarters. Our actions act as conceptual proof of the struggle while our cinematic conceits flourish at the center of it all, convinced by the magic of 0’s and 1’s, romanticized by what will happen after the fall. Dubious, equivocal, fuzzy.
In order to test the tangibility of space we fill it with the results of an action.
Some things can be done only in three dimensions because everything that exists there has space behind it. This space is open and extended; unpredictable; perpetually potential. Finality is akin to nothingness. It is a clock that measures reduction by counting down to nothing. An obdurate hoax bomb.
To compress and expand space a motion must be repeated but not repetitive. A rocking back and forth can both deny and emphasize rhythm. The only meaningful relationship is between a thing and its surrounding space. The only meaningful goal is thought. The subject of the action is the action itself. The fact that it is flaccid by nature is of no consequence. This work that speaks to the elements necessary for its creation; this work is a chorus of the everyday.
The process has been laborious, long-term, a longshot, a shot in the dark. Not as simple as hoped or planned. From second to second, everything changes. The diagrams are loose, inaccurate, and problematic, but dignified. Like sketches on the back of a napkin. So sincere and prone to poetry is this process that its role has become more impressionistic and interpretive than visionary.
Our anxiety does not stem from the fact that it passes, but from the mechanical measurement we have assigned it in order to detain every moment of its passing. To illustrate time concretely through a series progression of inexhaustible ticks is far from self-effacing. I for one, do not sleep with a clock in the room. I cannot detach myself from the relentless rhythm. I cannot count sheep. I cannot abide that kind of simple repetition.
A countdown without tenable explanation can evoke a rolling succession of no uncertain tensions. To be vaguely impending requires a unique slyness; a marriage of passive and aggressive; a jack-in-the-box; a silk tie between beginning and end; a primordial soup to sustain our sloppy apocalypse; an internal logic for anticipated anxiety. Anticipation can kill. So can entering a process that is already well underway.
_ _ _ point turn
When it finally happened, it was a surprise and a disappointment. Another spectacularly uneventful outcome. Business as usual. The process was slow and mildly laborious, but mostly frustrating because it seemed so avoidable. Not at all practical. Like quick sand, it felt like the greater the expenditure of effort, the deeper the sink into an impossible spot. That time in the middle when there was only inching and and inelegant rocking, that time was the best. It was a near perfect unproductivity that embodied the ridiculous. A 50+ point turn that didn’t hold up traffic or scratch any walls, didn’t damage the bumpers, threaten to hit a pedestrian, stall the engine, or cause anyone any grief of any kind. It was a gesture of impatience. A self-induced obstacle. A stubborn refusal to go around. A fine-tuning of the time-honoured act of making do.
ALEX BOWRON is an artist and freelance art-writer based in Toronto. She holds a BFA in sculpture/installation and an MA in critical cultural theory. Bowron’s writing ranges from academic to experimental and has appeared in publications, galleries, and collaborative projects with other artists.
JON SASAKI is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist and holds a BFA from Mount Allison University (Sackville, NB). Sasaki’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at galleries including the Ottawa Art Gallery, (Ottawa, ON); the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, (Lethbridge, AB); and the Art Gallery of Ontario, as well as a recent performance project at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. In fall of 2014 he completed an outdoor public installation at Sheridan College, (Oakville, ON) as part of their Temporary Contemporary commissioning program. Selected group exhibitions include Platform Art Spaces (Melbourne Australia); Nihonbashi Institute of Contemporary Art, (Tokyo, Japan); and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto, ON). He is the recipient of the 2015 Canadian Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize (Dufftown, Scotland.) Sasaki is represented by Clint Roenisch Gallery in Toronto. www.jonsasaki.com