I visited this exhibition because Longplayer is featured and I was excited to see it ‘in the flesh’, and I was confident that the wider content of the exhibition would likely address place and time. Sadly, the Longplayer installation was completely disappointing; a single illuminated panel of the circular score beside a block bench with two pairs of headphones, and very little information. I wish I had just gone to Trinity Buoy Wharf actually, having made the trip to London… I found myself enthusing about it to an American family who were confused by what they were looking at, even showing them the App on my phone – I don’t normally talk to strangers if I can help it. Safe to say I’m a bit hooked by Longplayer!
Eadward Muybridge: The Horse in Motion (1882)
These images were captured using many cameras, all triggered by trip-wires as the horse passed them. The work was commissioned by Leland Stanford (Founder of Stanford University) to help understand equine locomotion in a bid to breed faster race horses. Muybridge and Marey used the method to document movement in many different species, including humans. Artists such as Edgar Degas and Thomas Eakins used the image sequences to improve the realism of their own work.
The photographic sequences were released for sale in large volumes, one of which is on display in this exhibition. With a degree in Zoology, I am already familiar with them, and find it pleasing that they tie in with my Art studies also. Standing beside the cabinet, I certainly felt the historical importance of the large, leather-bound tome in front of me, representing, as it does, developments in both Arts and Science; photography and physiology.
‘A Manufacturing Town’, JS Lowry (1922)
I love Lowry’s work and was pleasantly surprised to find it included here. This piece absolutely deals with Place. Deliberately anonymous, and therefore not tied to ‘location’, it captures a feeling, a definite Northern identity and sense of familiarity and belonging. This is what I always experience when looking at Lowry’s work (although being a first generation Southerner in my family, I could be accused of appropriation…). I had not considered its relation to Time. On the BBC site that accompanies the exhibition, Sir Ian Blatchford provides the following commentary:
“…￼￼ more than anything, time is always present. The factory clock is an actor in many of Lowry’s paintings. It’s there in Lowry’s ‘Going to Work’, ‘Coming Home from the Mill’, and in ‘Early Morning’. Sure enough in a manufacturing town it looms like a master above the sprawling crowds ..￼￼￼￼￼￼. The industrial processes work because of time … Clocks￼ are the key machine in industrialisation￼.”
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000936t (accessed 26/01/20)
‘Sun on the Pool Los Angeles April 13th 1982’, David Hockney (1982)
Until asked to mount an exhibition of his photography at the Pompidou Centre in 1982, Hockney had dismissed photography as akin to ‘looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed Cyclops – for a split second’. Curator Alain Sayag suggested the use of a Polaroid camera, and a new phase in Hockney’s practice was born. Capturing multiple facets of an image allowed him to create work that was ‘abstracted, stylized: the ideas were based on Cubism in the way that it filters things down to an essence’. Hockney said, “It worked so well that I couldn’t believe what was happening when I looked at it. I saw all these different spaces, and I thought: “My God! I’ve never seen anything like this in photography.”
https://thedavidhockneyfoundation.org/chronology/1982 (accessed 26/01/20).
I just love the aesthetic of this piece. As always, one gets a little star-struck looking at an original and thinking of the artist handling the object now inches in front of your face. Hockney produced a great many pieces like this, and later moved on to more conventional film rather than polaroids, but I think the white borders add a lot to the narrative; they make each view more static, and make the viewer feel they have paused to more closely look at the subject. The later pieces without the borders have a movement to them and are less appealing to me personally.