Visual Arts Programme
The Concourse Installation 2003
Tess Glanville - Chasing Light
How do we decide 'where' and 'when' and 'who' we are? What markers do we use to determine our location in time and in space? 'Who' we determine we are, is based on our own thoughts and opinions, informed by our experiences and our motivations and aspirations. 'Where' we are is where we perceive ourselves to be, a judgement based on external factors and markers determined by other individuals - we are on the surface of the 'earth' in 'Dublin' in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council concourse, experiencing ' Chasing Light by Tess Glanville. This 'where' is named by others and we accept this naming. 'Where' can be determined by a point on the horizon and our point of reference taken from that. 'Where' has been the question of thousands of journeymen on land and on sea, for thousands of years and as a concept has informed much of Glanville's previous work.
Next to water, the human race could not live without light. Light and dark determine 'when' we are. It specifies the human condition - provides nourishment for humans and for crops, determines our seasons and the patterns of our days and nights. The 'where' and the 'when' are abstract notions that philosophers have been answering for centuries. It is this moment of abstraction between space and time, between the 'where' and the 'when' that has caught Tess Glanville. She began with an interest in the sea and in navigation and this interest has grown into the pursuit and tracking of the methods we use to establish our position in space and time. How do we relate the maps and charts that humans have created to our exact positioning on the planet? What narrative do we weave and extend between the abstract concept of 'where' we are and our actual placement on the earth? Sundials were our first ancient attempts to put an order and explanation on the light that pours from the heavens. But sundials are useless when motion occurs, so we created longitude and latitude to help us determine where we are when motion and light are involved. As a concept Tess has translated these techniques of observation and documentation into the process behind her work. Light is her Holy Grail and she chases it in a site specific context, marking where and how it falls. She condenses light and the markings she makes, are the evidence that the rays of light passed through the space and in a sense she, in doing so, captures 'time'. The ephemeral and abstract notion that time has passed is evidenced by her markings and we are reminded, when we observe these markings that we are now at a different moment in time. Therefore, when we view these light markings in a different season, the reality that a quantity of time has passed and that a season has changed, creates a jarring moment of reality and a juxtaposition of time. 'Chasing Light' creates such a juxtaposition. Tess has recorded the passing of light within the Concourse space in August and this is redisplayed to us in the greyness of November.
It is so easy for us as city dwellers to become disassociated with the natural environment. The presentation to us of light, one of the most pertinent aspects of the natural world, creates a consciousness of reality that allows us to momentarily reconnect with that world and with the natural environment. The video condenses this reality and we experience an awareness of our place within current space and time. The boundaries of our built environment become apparent to us and light becomes tangible and animated. A performance. A fugitive is caught and primitive being controlled.
This is absolute contextualisation of concept. So site specific as to lose the tension created by its location within this particular space, if the work were to be moved to an alternate location. To view Chasing Light in an alternate space, at some point hence, will lose a resonance that is vital to the works character. The site specificity of Chasing Light's context is about as integral as an artwork can be. Hugh Pearman's aspirations for his 'Art for Architecture' concept promoted in recent years in the UK, finds absolute fulfillment in such a work. The uniqueness of Glanville's observation serves to heighten the intensity of the work.
Tess has concentrated the intangible. Presenting to us the elusive and unreachable. The fluid and ephemeral moments of the natural world are captured and presented to us in still or moving images and therefore always detached or elusive. As beings we are constantly searching and striving for the unattainable and shifting horizon. The shifting and moving ground which we inhabit is bathed/clothed in light and then in dark. This natural cycle over which we have no control. We yearn for order and our urge to progress and control our environment is tantamount. This is evidenced by the very motives and concepts behind Chasing Light. Control the shifting ground and control the light, capture it, manipulate it and Glanville presents it to us in the form of moving images or still moments, germinations of concentrated nature that reconnect us to ourselves.