THE CONTINGENCY OF GRAVITY: A COLLABORATIVE PROJECT
What I am trying to translate to you is more mysterious; it is entwined in the very roots of being, in the impalpable source of sensations
Light, gravity and time are so crucial to our physical and haptic appraisal of the real some physicists think if you were able to turn gravity off, reality would disappear. The thing that links gravity, time and space is that you can't see them, but you can feel and represent them. This confounds our so-called knowledge of the real because this sensate knowledge, framed in the irresolvable tension between representation and the somatic, between matter and perception, supplies the unstable ground in which artists need situate their work.
Artists describe and work with reality in many ways, but as any practitioner knows, the forces of gravity play a particularly physical role in the production and methods of art making. Practice doesn't take place in an historical or cultural vacuum nor is it defined solely by influences outside itself. Time is relative and everything that arises from this premise is strange but real. Space is three-dimensional - something our senses tell us. There is a universal clock so time travel and variable aging is impossible -something that commonsense has always told us. If ceilings, walls and floors, mass and weight, duration and volume fell away, how would we as artists orientate ourselves to the world? Art practice, in taking on aspects of its own contemporary field, transforms these physical aspects of being, knowing and experiencing into its own set of conditions or parameters. So rather than having solely external conditions for its being, art has the capacity and language with which to create its own. These self-reflexive conditions can work to delimit and describe the artwork before any idea is generated, thus providing the one who experiences the work, a slight or moveable concept of the real. Art given time, makes certain that which it can't predict without proof.
One cannot see time, and is subject to a lack awareness of the disappearance of time even though paradoxically nothing appears that does not require and take time. The strange fact is, that at speed, time is slowed down in order for the speed of the light for seeing to remain constant.
"Nothing sees the light of day, no phenomenon, that is not on the measure of day, in other words of the revolution that is the rhythm of a suns course… and that orients this course from its endpoint; from the rising in the east and the setting in the west."
Light then, acts as a speed limit for all objects in regard to all other objects, maintaining causes and effects in special relativity, creating proven shifts in time to maintain its constancy. Light is an electromagnetic field in which energy is conducted and where the mathematics of relativity theory exist as descriptors of the cosmos's gravitational field, of which it has no independent existence. If gravity operated at the speed of light all the planets would experience a torque so forceful it would fling them out of the solar system in a few thousand years. Clearly, that doesn't happen. In the fabric of space-time, as described in the theory of general relativity, gravity manifests because space and time are curved or disturbed in the presence of matter, altering the shape and the warp of space-time and thus revealing the weakest force - gravity. From this it can be concluded that gravity is a property of space-time, wholly contingent and not a separate phenomenon.
Even though we don't seem to know what is going on with reality, artists necessarily make work that draws attention to the fact of our contingent relationship to gravity and the space-time continuum. Politics begins when people who normally can't find, or give time to reflect upon or discuss the conditions of the real take time out to make artworks, to argue or to develop critical discourse around it.
"… Insofar as it frames not only works or monuments, but also a specific space-time sensorium, as this sensorium defines ways of being together or being apart, of being inside or outside, in front of or in the middle of, etc. It is political as its own practices shape forms of visibility that reframe the way in which practices, manners of being and modes of feeling and saying are interwoven in a commonsense, which means a "sense of the common" embodied in a common sensorium".
In 2009 a collaborative project involving ten artists from New Zealand, Scotland, Germany, Australia, England and Korea will provide an opportunity to consider through practice and discourse that relativity, time and space are explicable, palpable and know-able. The artists will agree to give some of their number a mandate to realise a single project for a defined period of time in one city - possibly Seoul. The project will have conceptual basis, that will be linked to the weakest force called gravity, and in a circular way, to the field of giving time. How this manifests will be premised by the individual instructions given to the few who will realise the differing aspects of the project. In this way, the proposed collaborative project between artists positioned in various parts of the world, some at a distance that reveals the space-time warp of gravity, will be able to play with the properties of light, form, weight, velocity, contingency, measurement and much else whilst considering, politically and practically, the force which is gravity in relation to their own field of practice.
"The real-time interface then, once and for all, replaces the interval that once constituted and organised history and geography of human societies, winding up in a true culture of the paradox where everything arrives not only without needing to physically move from one space to another but, more particularly without having to leave." Paul Virilio
Through collaboration with others it is hoped to make palpable the exchange between cultures and its representations - where up and down, east and west, before and after, distance, proximity, language, matter, interpretation and perception are all means and measures of negotiating a relationship to gravity's space-time. In the case of this future project, an exhibition is intended as a tangible outcome of a mutually conceived topography of instances; a point of rest where the audience can arrive at a physical and temporal interface, a point in the continuum where the artwork is present in the gravity of an audience's experiencing. In creating distant co-ordinates between artists and place, between audiences and artwork, between truths of knowing and experiencing the world as we differently and collectively know it, this project is intended to orient ourselves and our audience to the realities of their rotating environment, whatever it's truths may be.
If the facts don't fit the theory then change them!