Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Time Dimension in Art
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

One of my passions is to create Post-Graffiti artwork on cloth. A series of posts on this blogspot have addressed issues in Graffiti and Post Graffiti Art as well as presenting images of such art. I have listed some of these below for your enjoyment.
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art
Act of Engagement
New York Spray-Can Memorials
Another Brick
Cultural Graffiti
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona@Spoonflower
Neu Kunst: Mona & Marilyn
Paste Modernism 4

Time Dimension In Art
In 1912 Einstein had renounced that our universe was limited to a three-dimensional space, which had been so happily nurtured by Newton and before him by Euclid[1]. The Euclidean three-dimensional space of width, length and height was no longer completely relevant in measurement or in empirical science. Matter had distorted the space phenomenon by the inclusion of time, resulting in our universe being four-dimensional namely: length, width, height (space dimensions) plus time.

Some fifty years later the time dimension was folded into space dimensions of art to forge Kinetic and Op Art. Kinetic means relating to motion and the aspect of that art, which quickly gained attention was the art object that operated on the optical nerves of the retina - labeled as “Op” art. It was generally (but not exclusively) conceived as non-figurative art that exploited the fallibility of the psychology and physiology of the human perceptual system in order to extract illusory effects[2].

The pioneer of Op Art was Victor Vasarely[2] whose most acclaimed work is expressed in geometric terms, but that is balanced and has a counterpoint within it. He does not disturb your equilibrium but rather through an abstracted art form manipulates your optical senses via his architectural design.

Victor Vasarely, Zebras (1939).

Victor Vasarely, Feny (1969).

On the other hand, British artist Bridget Riley purposely disturbs the equilibrium of your

Bridget Riley, Cataract 3 (1967).

Bridget Riley, Descending (1965).

Jesus Rafael Soto was also an Op artist[2]. One of his concerns was the transformation of matter into energy. He created a series of reliefs he called vibrations that addressed this issue. In these works, layers of lines, either static or mobile, produce an optical disturbance. In “Cardinal” he exploits the moire effect: that is, a diagonal line drawn across parallel lines appears to be broken at each intersection point. As you walk in front of the piece the stems move in the slight breeze and the optical effects of the stems against the stripes enhance this movement.

Jesus Rafael Soto, Cardinal (1965).

Op artists such as Peter Sedgley[2] explored relationships between light and sound, with screens on which the noise and movement of a spectator or the motion of air (i.e. wind) were altered the reflected colored light. These artworks were the precursors of the total art environments of the next generation of artists who extended this vein of art.

Peter Sedgley, Wind Tone Tower (1979).

It is generally not appreciated - even in tomes on Graffiti or street art[3] – that Graffiti Art also folds into the space dimension a time dimension - albeit in an unwitting fashion. It is usually engaged on the move (or at a pace) and so necessarily its mark making needs to be large, expressive, comprehensible to the youth and moreover, focused. Unlike much object art in museums and galleries, there is no agreement between the artist and the viewer that the latter has the luxury to loiter. This aspect of the Graffiti Art is further emphasized when Graffiti artworks are painted on moving objects such as buses and trains. The most successful Graffiti artworks in the environment are those that implicitly address the space as well as the time dimension.

Unknown Artist.

Unknown Artist.

On the other hand, Post Graffiti ArtCloth works[4] generally are easily accommodated in static environments and so lend themselves to deconstructed images, nuances and complex interpretations. The only time factor during the act of engagement rests solely with the viewer, and so the time dimension is not an essential element in its art context.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Cultural Graffiti (2003) - A Post Graffiti ArtCloth work.

ArtCloth artworks may also include a time dimension in the art context. For example, in the installation “Codes – Lost Voices”[5] (see a previous post) the ArtCloth pieces were hung from the ceiling. They were arranged like trees in a forest, thereby offering glimpses of the surrounding artwork. Fans were purposely positioned, wafting the artworks, thereby giving the installation a kinetic or “breathing” effect. The ArtCloth works in the installation needed to give the appearance of a “living” entity - rather then a muted reflection of a past long gone.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Codes – Lost Voices, ArtCloth Installation, Watt Space Gallery (2001). See an earlier post.

The time dimension of ArtCloth has been under utilised mainly because the movement of cloth may be seen as a distraction during the act of engagement. However, as the space dimensions of ArtCloth has already been well developed (see below) perhaps the time dimension should not be so readily dismissed by ArtCloth artists, since unlike like canvass, ArtCloth can be a very delicate, expressive - and if necessary - a kinetic surface.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski's ArtCloth piece, Rain Forest Glow (2003). See an earlier post - selected disperse dye ArtCloth works.

The next two posts will center on my Post Graffiti urbane landscape ArtCloth work.

Batiks billowing in the breeze at Ahalper, Utopia Batik Revival Workshop (2007). Photograph courtesy of Julia Murray.

[1] R. Arnheim, Visual Thinking (University of California Press, Berkley, 1969) P290-293.
[2] D. Piper, The Illustrated History of Art (Bounty Books, London, 2005) P492-493.
[3] N. Ganz, Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents (H.N Abrams, New York, 2004).
[4] M-T Wisniowski, Post Graffiti Art (The University of Newcastle Textile Lecture Series, 2008-2010).
[5] M-T Wisniowski, Codes – Lost Voices (Watts Space Gallery, 2001).

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