Alongside working on animations, video sequences, and installations I continue to draw and paint from the 'natural' environment. In these works I've been exploring ways to convey a sense of time though layering and gestural mark-making. The question currently at the heart of my practice is how can I best convey time? Past present and future. Here it is compressed, overlaid and fixed into simultaneous instants.
How many layers used affects how dense and therefore how much the image breaks down into abstraction, becoming less readable as representational image. In the first and second images I have worked from successive reference photographs. As the layers build old ones are rubbed out to make way for new branches and trunks.
In the remaining works layers have been completed and then more fully erased in an attempt to build a rich surface of image fragments. As the work progressed I stopped using reference and instead relied on intuition, reacting to elements already within the composition. Key structures were then picked out of the composition to arrive at point in which all instants are fused.
The 'virtual' image (past/future) is aligned with the 'objective' temporal image of the present. In the context of the cinema Deleuze theorises this fusion of temporal domains as the 'crystal image'. Objective present and subjective past meet, while the concept of a 'crystal image' has been formulated for the moving image here I am attempting to imply movement and time through layering of moments.
Deleuze described the 'virtual' as 'opposed not to the real but to the actual. The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual. Exactly what Proust said of states of resonance must be said of the virtual: 'Real without being actual, ideal without being abstract'“
Deleuze - Difference and repetition - 1968
Are these virtual works? while their layers hints at duration, the past of the virtual they are fixed in the impossibility of the present. They have become 'actual' art object. This contrasts with 'Corpse' double projections in which movement in the image unfixes it from the actual to become 'virtual'. But the 'Corpse' works include the 'body' of the spectator. Is not the body 'actual'? Brian Massumi believes the body occupies both positions of 'actual' and 'virtual' simultaneously
The body is as immediately abstract as it is concrete; its activity and expressivity extend, as on their underside, into an incorporeal, yet perfectly real, dimension of pressing potential....the brain as a centre of indertermination; consciousness as subtractive and inhibitive; perception as working to infold extended actions and expressions, and their situatedness, into a dimension of intensity or intension as apposed to extension; the continual doubling of the actual body by this dimension of intensity, understood as a superlinear, super-abstract realm of potential; that realm of the virtual as having a different temporal structure, in which past and future brush shoulders with no mediating present, and as having a different, recursive causality; the virtual as cresting in a liminal realm of emergence, where half-actualized actions and expressions arise like waves on a sea to which most no sooner return.' Brian Massumi - Parables for the virtual: Movement, Affect, sensation - p31
I find charcoal allows me to work quickly, therefore the works contain more gestural movement. However I have always found charcoal to be problematic as qualities and definition are too easily erased. Maybe this transience suits work dealing with time but it is still frustrating! I often prefer pencil's quality of mark-making and line but sometimes when working more representationally work can appear too 'static', I especially see this in image two.
When drawing I often take photos of the work as it develops, here I kept finding I preferred earlier more gestural stages of the work before the surfaces become saturated with mark-making. The two images below are both of drawings during their early stages.
In reaction to these observations I developed the work below. Of the two I prefer the space, movement, and suggestion of forms in the second image. I intend to try and create a set in this looser style which takes me away from the much denser earlier works. Here time is more hinted at through movement; also layering is much less suffocating with plenty of space between compositional elements.