Saturday, January 19, 2008

As absent as if we were asleep

Above image, Spencer Finch, Cloud (H20).

The work of Spencer Finch explores the intersection of actual/ perceived (physical, sensory), remembered (constructed inner experience), physical/ empirical ('actuality' of objects as objectively recorded), and individual/collective emotion (loss, shared psychology). It asks the questions: what is the objective representation of a subjective phenomenon? As well, Finch points out: in between the objective, and the subjective, there is the feeling of loss.

Working alongside the philosophers, Finch examines the relationship between outer (perception, experience, sensation) and inner (memory, emotion). Does replication of an exact visual experience (the ceiling above Freud's couch, the light in Emily Dickinson's garden) allow the viewer to enter the inner experience of a participant?

The relationship between recorded/empirical 'data' (photographs and images, light, scientific data, etc) and the subjective experience which occurs because or in spite of such 'data' is at play. In the work "Trying to Remember the Colour of Jackie Kennedy's Pillbox Hat", 1995, a series of 100 drawings present 100 parts of the exact pink the former first lady was wearing on the day of her husband's assassination. This marriage of 'hard evidence' (exact color pink) to our collective memory: that pink is forgotten, but now we are returned to it, and there is something poignant about seeing the objective within an experience that emotional and collective.

In "Sky over Cape Canaveral (Challenger)", 1994, Finch presents us with the exact location in the sky where the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Again we cannot separate our experience of the visual 'data' from our emotional inner scape; we see the sky anew, surprised at how blue it was.

Spencer Finch "What Time Is It on the Sun?" is on view at Mass MOCA through Spring 2008.

To read more on "What time it is on the Sun?, an eloquent review in the NYTimes by Bridget Goodbody: Review here.