“A mirage consisting of multiple images, as of cliffs and buildings, that are distorted and magnified to resemble elaborate castles” The quivering, narrow band just above the horizon line, a superior mirage, given the Arthurian folkloric name ‘Fata Morgana.’
Within this optical phenomenon, the horizon, its objects and coastline are significantly compressed, doubled, stacked and inverted or elevated and the horizon and its distortions may appear to tremble. The phenomenon can be seen on land or at sea, in polar regions and in deserts, like those studied in Herzog’s 1971 film Fata Morgana.
The works consider horizon, mirage and illusion, whether literal or figurative, as prompts to which one may continuously seek to adapt to, toy with, marvel at, form a corresponding rhythm to or reject altogether. Images of bells pieced together from underneath, psychogeographical patterns of businessmen walking through Canary Wharf, the idle motion of bouncing on a trampoline, dipping under and above the horizon line.
Perhaps initially, the horizon is experienced as a point to look towards. In a moving body or environment, the ritual of forward facing may ground one into a sense of stability. Sunsets on postcards sent home from holidays, a vista, the view from a train window. Horizon may represent a pause. Conversely, a horizon cbe experienced as a deception, the pause is therefore a placebo. It may pose as a ‘complete’ image that presents itself as total or infinite – there is nothing beyond the horizon line because there is nothing visible beyond it. Like a Trompe L'oeil, the horizon builds an illusion of ‘world’ and eventually, one becomes aware of its profundity, expanse or lack thereof. In turn, one questions the limitations of their position in relation to the horizon which they are facing.
As a part of their somatic poetry ritual titled “Ignition Chronicles”, poet CAConrad writes about the act of watching live webcams of the sun rising in Mecca, Tokyo, Istanbul and Prague from a rainy city in the United States. CAConrad considers the ritual of sunrise and sunset, the collective rhythm and movement pattern they can impose on a people.
Thomas P. Grogan’s Rites of Passage, may meditate on similar notions of movement patterns within urban and contemporary ecologies. Capturing footage from pavement level of businessmen commuting to office buildings in Canary Wharf, Grogan examines a nearly animal-like pattern that corporate and urban culture fosters. An intricate, three dimensional screen on legs displays the footage. Viewers peer downwards at the screen to watch the camera pointed upwards at the legs of commuters, reversing a typical sense of space while including us in a form of innocent eavesdropping. Notions of routine and universality are questioned; what does a collective movement pattern look like at this angle and within the boundaries of this screen?
Similarly, Justine Melford-Colegate’s photographic study Rhythmanalyst [Bells #4 and #7], encourages a reorientation. Documenting a 5 ton bell from below, Melford-Colegate resists a stillness and attempts to capture a layered history of material through piecing together. The bell, called ‘Liberation’ is regarded as the oldest existing bell in Europe, residing within the Oudekerk, Amsterdam, nearly forgotten, hung in the dark and seldom rung. However, Melford-Colegate’s depictions of the still object feel far from still, a motion and rhythm expressed in the images and her position underneath them seem integral to a process of eroticising and re-seeing their layered history. An inability to capture the whole means the bell is shown fragmented, or in parts.
Grogan’s Ojo Rojo is a video work following the early making stages of a sculptural work. The video is reminiscent of a road movie, following the journey from the roads of the Spanish Basque Country to the coast of Galicia, emphasising scenes of motion and conceptions for the work in progress. Two protagonists discuss personal associations and connections to the horizon through the exercise. The sculpture aims to produce visual mirages by setting itself in a looping motion through different reflective surfaces, superposing these surfaces and objects onto the surrounding landscapes. The video considers the cyclicity of rituals that either ground or emancipate us and the role that the horizon may play in these rituals.
Scott Young's Trampoline with Vert de Mer features a small exercise trampoline hung to the wall with an intricate and dark marbleized effect on its surface. A trampoline, whether found in the backyard where children take turns bouncing or in a mundane suburban living room as the robotic audio of an exercise video plays, incites movement, engaged or languorous, jumping above and below the view of whatever ‘horizon’ is available to view. A rigid marble effect underpinning the springy, playful and moving. The juxtaposition creates a tension, even an entrapment. The classical marbleized pattern pushes past functions of illusory persuasion and instead, through its particular juxtaposition, asks us to see twice.
Justine Melford-Colegate’s sculptural work Arcane Summit presents a reflective chair with a leg casting protruding through holes in its backrest and base. Like a phantom limb, the leg seems to be stepping into and through the chair, its origin unknown. Dressed in bulky pads and a pointy stiletto which gently rests on the floor. Its scale slightly dominates the chair, as it reflects and retracts the legs’ shadow on its surface. The chairs' affordance becomes a kind of portal. The inside of the leg, which one can peer into from the back of the chair, is lined with shimmering glass beads, resembling the compressed, material time of a geode or crystal.
Melford-Colegate considers symbolic material and the slippage, relation and association that accompany the leg, its protective padding and its sharp stiletto. The leg, slightly grotesque in its singularity and erotic in its fervour, displays a moment of disembodiment, entrapment and transition. A contiguity of meanings seem apparent through its juxtapositions, akin to the Surrealist tradition. Both articles seek to enhance or obscure a part of the body; strengthening, softening, protecting, eroticising, bulking, elevating.
Svetlana Boym outlines two veins of nostalgia in her book The Future of Nostalgia. A restorative nostalgia and a reflective one. The restorative seems to fuel an illusion of home and origin, often through the reduction of symbols and histories to a single plot, advocating for the restoration of such origins. Boym connects this line of nostalgia to the extreme cases of contemporary nationalisms, which can be reflected in symbols as well as traditions of sport, patterns of movement and gender performance. Conversely, the reflective, perhaps a form of nostalgia more aligned with the artist's position, is to long for and consider the condition of longing, but to defer the homecoming, to look past restoration or solution.
Grogan, Young and Melford-Colegate dip in, over and under the lines created by their juxtapositions, contradictions and reorientations. The works are concerned more with a multiplicity in seeing, moving, materiality and histories, producing paradoxical tensions rather than memorials, reenactments or ‘solutions’.
Like the quivering distortions found in a horizon, a sunset on a postcard or a sunrise in a distant city watched from a computer screen, an inherent subjecthood is formed and therefore a gap between what we observe in the horizon and what that observation spurs within us.
Text by Claire Buchanan