Work featured in Thoughts on Paper Oriel y Bont USW

Oriel y Bont University of Swansea 17 January – 25 February 2022

There: version 2 Fin de siècle 2008 Animation Duration: 1m 41s Continuous loop

Using a combination of hand-drawn and digital effects, There relates to work made during the 2000’s on the theme of the non-visual. Works that through specific placement with the architecture of the gallery existed just beyond plain sight; not demanding to be seen, they could be discovered.

There can exist both within and outside this context for reading as comes from a fascination with Man Ray’s 1920 photograph of dust breeding on Duchamp’s Large Glass sculpture. As in the simple animated sketch before, I wanted to look at something that was physically and materially slight in the scheme of things yet was embedded or even burdened with significance. In Tarot readings the terms tangible and intangible universe under pin the reading of the cards. There slips between these two situations, tip-toeing on existing. I have in previous conversation, liken the piece to the fluid nature of reality itself which like Art has no definite reason or meaning. There is essentially a diagram of a space or hole struggling to be filled with meaning. I think all actions are essentially unresolved and the artist has a predetermined conflict with the idea of the full stop…

There: version 2 Fin de siècle (2008) was made during a period when I was watching a lot of early silent cinema. This informed the music for There; an attempt to depict hope and failure but in the way music for silent film conveyed the emotions of the characters on screen, trapped in a silent world. The descending semi-tone scale representing despair and the top chimes, hope. The reverb re-enforces the sense of isolation in the rotating motif. While grammatically correct the use of ‘there’ over ‘their’ re-enforces the idea the rotating shape is unadopted or disassociated with anything else. A random particle waiting to be assigned while also a metaphor for long dead actors whose movements live on, trapped in the media of film like pre-historic insects trapped in amber.

Richard Higlett
annotated notes 14/01/22

A version of There was originally shown as part of Re-drawing, Oriel Davies, Newtown, Wales 2008

before 2006 Projection upon paper. Animation Duration: 5m 8s Continuous loop

There is no desert on earth as barren and devoid of life as a
blank canvas. Edgar Leggit 1913.

Quote taken from the Neo-colourists Manifesto. Published Paris, November 1913.

For canvas we could replace with page, block of stone or unexposed film. The time before something is shaped into being, defined or at least beginning a journey to some sense of resolution, is the purpose of the piece before.

Intentionally lower case ‘b’, the piece refers to the flux before thoughts and actions begin; before they manifest in the tangible world and are subject to consequence.

The act of twiddling thumbs is initiated elsewhere in the subconscious. Signals in left side of the brain controlling motor function travel down the base of the neck and cross over to the right hand side of the body. A tiny electrical signal that rides one of billions of nerve canals, terminates in the thumb. The command is for the thumb to rotate clockwise; in advance. With the right hand clasped in contemplation with their brother/sister, the left hand, the exposed and creatively vacant left thumb is encircled. At this point, we are not sure if an visible energy is radiated akin to a copper battery, an electro ‘emotive’ force but it appears so. The invitation to dance is accepted and the left thumb begins a cyclic two step. The machine is complete and energy is being generated. These micro-amperes begin to flow up the left arm, again crossing at the base of the neck to eventually, in the briefest of moments, arrive in the accommodating pastures of the creative, right, side of brain. They arrive with intent, intent to spark and create a fire of the imagination.

Projected on a wall, with the brightness pared down, the animation was intended to appear just below the surface. A shimmer with a routine that could be missed by the viewer while others may see and read it like a clock.

Part of a series of works around the idea of ‘non-visual’, the work does not demand to be looked at or engaged with, but happened upon. I was interested in when an action was considered a work of endeavour (I shy away from the term Art in this context.) before is a diagram of a motor, a working diagram with projected, intangible parts. It could be said to be a piece about the way the brain operates at a sub-atomic level yet the results of such tiny interactions can be extraordinary and define and shape our reality and lives forever, while some of these interactions may also appear as meaning less.

Richard Higlett
annotated notes13/01/22

before was first presented at B312 Gallery, Montreal, Canada in 2006 as part of an international exchange program developed by g39 Gallery, Cardiff, Wales.

With thanks to Chris Nurse, Artist/Curator/Lecturer Oriel y Bont

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