The idleness of shadows
DFTPTMMYAIN, part 3 – The. 2022. Christof Migone.
Earlier this year, I was one of the twelve artists invited by the Canadian artist and writer, Christof Migone to take part in his 12-year project: Different From The One Place Time Mood Mindset You Are In Now.
With a knowing nod to Alvin Lucier’s, I am sitting in a room (1969) the invitation was to participate in, The: the third word and part, of Christof’s annual dozen. Like Lucier’s magnetic room, The, composes its form from an instructed action:
Room you are not in. Room where you usually make (sounds, images, objects, etc.), but that is currently running on idle. Idling in unintentional sounds. Room is lit but faded in and out after the fact (I will do the fade in fadeout). Camera captures room or detail (up to you), only one position throughout. Presence might be felt but is not present. You were there and you will be there again, but you are not there now.
The room where I make is spare, small and recently painted. It’s also the place where I keep and shelve the things I made and make with. On a desk in the corner there is an iMac with one Sonic Egg studio monitors on either side. An old straw hat perches ergonomically on the left-hand egg.
The room has one window. When the iMac is on stand-by or off, the window is reflected in its screen; the dusty emptiness of the room behind made visible through the glass darkly. On sunny winter days, the light from the window casts shadows on the wall opposite, shadows that breath slowly in and out of perceptibility. I use these shadows as an opportunity to stop and stare and let myself dawdle in their idleness.
I made two films in response to the instruction. In the first and selected film, the stare of my iPhone is fixed on the wall where shadows appear. I pressed record, left the room and closed the door to. Twelve minutes or so later I returned to press stop. The twelve minutes recorded are uneventful. Shadows are slight and fleeting. The distant spin of a washing machine whines through its cycle. A draft from the open window, pushes and pulls the room ajar, creating spontaneous creaks, which occasionally synchronise with the fluctuations in light and less light.
In a more composed second attempt at idleness, I fixed the stare of the iPhone upon the iMac screen. I muted the microphone, and started a metronome before leaving the room, to return twelve minutes later and press stop. Visible through the blizzard of dust which covers the screen, the reflection of the metronome keeps time silently. An occasional particle of dust, drifting through the air is caught in the sunlight of the silenced room. This silence is replaced with the audible draft of the previous twelve minutes. The silent metronome announces and measures loss, whilst time creaks and idles in the dust.
In the late winter of 2021, sitting in front of the dim mirror of the iMac screen, I started to experience a bright and recurring flash in my left eye. Unlike the stained-glass spiral scotoma of a normal migraine, this light was briefly white and peripheral. Some days later drops of liquid dilated the aperture of my pupil and the attentive lens of the optometrist found a small tear in the retina of my left eye. As if to celebrate my visual field was immediately flooded with millions of black dots. That evening in a small, dark and automatically locked room, small bursts of a laser welded a line around the edge of my retina, the light so bright that my left eye seemed to lose the notion of sight.
Through winter 2021 and spring 2022, there were four more tears and four more laser surgeries to weld my retina back into place. This has left my vision full of floaters, the remains of cells, casting their shadows on my retina. Like the wall and iMac screen, my visual field is full of dust and the idleness of shadows.