We experience time as a progression in one direction at a rate consistent with the rhythm of our bodies, our consciousness and life span. This is human time, time that informs our experience of ourselves, others, spaces and places. In contrast the material of the earth is hard evidence of another time that is imperceptible to us, the achingly slow movement of deep geological time. This is earth time.
The works in this screening recognise the dichotomy between human time and earth time. Flirting with the role of chronicler the artists all re-frame the material of the earth, exposing the substance of our interventions on the landscape and the images we make of them.
In Seamus Harahan’s ‘samurai’ we move at speed along a border’s hinterland held in rapt internal reflection framed by music and the passing landscape. Claire Langan’s ‘Wilderness’ exposes a stark and uncanny vision of landscape, one that suggests unknowable forces, events and times beyond our perception. ‘Of oil and origin’ by Caroline Doolin charts multiple territories and times in a quest to uncover the complex nature and value of oil and our fixation on it as raw material. The drive to create and maintain order in the natural world is also reflected in Cliona Harmey’s ‘Metronome’. Here a harbour populated with moored sailing boats is framed, looped and fixed to a regular and perpetual rhythm. Mediated encounters with sea, rock and the material of the earth inform Sarah Lincoln’s reflections on the relationship between us and the earth we inhabit in ‘How We float’. Dónal Ó’Céilleachair’s 4’With Wind and White Cloud’ is an experiential journey through urban and rural landscape through the eyes of the traveller and chronicler defying real time experience through speeded up film. Michelle Doyle’s ‘Distance from Stone’ focuses on the mystical and symbolic relationships devised using stone, the raw material of our forts, fortresses and follies. In Julie Murray’s ‘Detroit Park’, a monumental movie theatre, whose enclosed space was once a temple to compressed film time, now stands in ruins. The space is both a testament to the fickleness and speed of late capitalism and time’s relentless march towards disorder and decay.
Michelle Deignan MExIndex Curator in Residence 2018
The works in Subject to weathering are:
1 ‘Samurai’, Seamus Harahan 3 mins 40 secs, 2006
2 ‘Wilderness’, Claire Langan 7 minutes 2010
3 ‘Of oil and origin’, Caroline Doolin, 19 mins 36 secs, 2015
4 ‘Metronome’, Cliona Harmey 2 mins 1999
5 ‘How We Float’, Sarah Lincoln 7 minutes, 2014.
6 ‘with wind and white cloud,’ Dónal Ó’Céilleachair, 5 mins,
7 ‘Distance from Stone’, Michelle Doyle, 9 mins 30 secs 2018
8 ‘Detroit Park’, Julie Murray, 7 mins 33 secs, 2005.
Subject to Weathering at Temple Bar Studios, Dublin, 26 October 2018 – A summery by Mary Noolan
Each year MExIndex invites a curator to present a screening of artists’ moving images work
drawn from the MExIndex database. For this screening, curator-in-residence, Michelle
Deignan, sought works which examined aspects of landscape and time, reflecting her
interest in themes such as how land is owned, partitioned, exploited, and experienced.
Following the viewing of eight works by Irish artists (Seamus Hanrahan, Claire Doolin, Cliona
Harmey, Sarah Lincoln, Dónal Ó Céalleachair, Michelle Doyle, Julie Murray), Deignan and
moderator Sarah Durcan, with MEx director, Fifi Smith, discussed the viewing.
Deignan explained how she initially used the search word facility to identify possible works,
raising the question of the keywords and terminology generally applied in descriptions of
moving images works, with Durcan postulating the need to review these as the technology
changes and evolves. The panel wondered about the importance of land in Irish culture, and
whether this might therefore be a more prominent theme in Irish moving images works than
elsewhere. Deignan commented that it was unusual to curate works bound to a location, as
the MExIndex currently is defined, but Smith pointed out that these are early days for the
Index, and as the database grows, the perspective may change.
A recurring question in the MExIndex curated screenings is that of the impact of bringing
together individual works in a themed way. Do the creators of the works see their piece
differently? Does the curator’s choice of order, which as Durcan pointed out was not in this
instance chronological, add a new layer of meaning for the viewer? Deignan felt that while
she didn’t want to impose her own ‘spin on things’, none the less the order was an important
element of the overall structure of the screening. A number of viewers felt that as an
exploration of time and of different perspectives, Subject to Weathering ended with a note of
nostalgia in Murray’s Detroit Park, which Deignan preferred to designate a lament.
Other topics touched on in the discussion were the range of technology used, from looping,
to handheld camera work, to high-end production tools; the use of voiceover; the lack of
human presence in the works shown; and the need to work from a plan, when the work is
being externally funded. Just as the individual works conveyed multiple and complex
concepts in short pieces, so too this brief but substantive discussion provided food for
thought for anyone interested in moving images, film, or indeed creative activity in general