Oct. 03, 2012 - Issue #885: Fall Style 2012
Around the Sun
Works by Dan Hudson
Harcourt House Gallery
In our fast-forward world it's easy to tire of nearly everything. Groundbreaking news is soon forgotten. Innovative technologies grow out of date. Only a few things never grow tiresome. No matter how old or how young, it's eternally fascinating to see trees turning rainbow colours, or to watch city streets transform to rivers in the spring. Those long awaited seasonal changes have been miraculously condensed for us into a mere four-minutes through the carefully crafted video technology of Dan Hudson in his installation Around the Sun.
Hudson created this time machine magic through a labourious process of nearly daily videotaping in identical locations for a year. He used trees and other markers as his guides to make sure that his camera was in exactly the same spot—hoping that his markers would not be cut down as one of the trees was during the process. He went out no matter what the weather: sleet, snow or hot summer days.
The result of his labours is a video environment that encompasses the viewer. Three wall-sized projections greet me at the entrance of the show. Simple white benches in the gallery beckon. I sit as in a park: reflect and watch the surrounding scenery. On the south wall is a video of a desolate mountain range. To the east, is the busy hubbub of a sidewalk with streaming tourists. Across, a semi-remote park that comes alive with skaters and picnickers. These common postcard views have an extraordinary twist: seasons change with breathtaking speed. Time rushes in endless cycles.
The repetitive drone of an instrument—perhaps a sitar—permeates the gallery. It gives these videos a vivid flavour of India. I begin to feel as if the artist was transporting me to an Ashram: not listening to a guru, but looking at a discourse on time. It's a concept that Hinduism contemplated for centuries. Unlike western ideas where time is secular and linear (Genesis is the beginning that leads to an inevitable end) Hindu perceptions are cyclical. There is no end to time. Destruction leads to creation. Winter portends new beginning. It makes for fascinating cultural differences: in Judeo Christianity, God creates time; in Hinduism, Brahman is time.
My ruminations on Eastern philosophy, inspired by Hudson's uncanny acceleration of time, are disrupted by his choice of simultaneous audio tracks that creates a cacophony in an otherwise contemplative atmosphere. It's impossible to discern anything but fragments of words. The artist statement explains these are news broadcasts from various time periods. There is no such thing as the good old days; yesterday's news is recycled like old leaves. Yet, these fragmented, undecipherable broadcasts become little more than noise pollution, the kind that disrupts contemplation of this deeply philosophical artwork.
Despite mixed success of the jarring audio superimposed onto hypnotic videos, Hudson's theme of time is remarkable and almost historically unprecedented. It may be a fascinating coincidence that another video artist, Christian Marclay has addressed this theme in his show The Clock, currently on display at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Perhaps the time to contemplate time has grown urgent, the speed of life perilous. Shows like Hudson's seat me down for a few minutes on a white bench, as on the edge of a river, and help me watch and contemplate time's flow. vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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