Treading through the entrance of Modern Art Oxford I am greeted by familiar and sounds of cups clattering, people in small groups talking, laughing, gesticulating. I turn to my left and begin to go upstairs drawn up into a luminous blue grey light. I step into the space and instantly feel the axis of the room change. One side my vision is tinted with blue as a large sheet of fabric looms up to to connect and bend with the ceiling. Face on I am transported to the landscape of a different world. From afar a wall appears angled diagonally to the room. It stretches from this view. Are we perhaps passing through a new slice of space in the gallery. Imagining time happens in waves, slowing down at certain points then becoming faster as the memory of an event recedes. We are caught in the moment of performed action. Bursting seconds pop and fritter on the surface. All is still, the remnants of each action serve as fixed coordinates for the viewer to gain a perspective and a new sense of place. Clusters of cast concrete lie in between the viewer and the wall. Heaped, they look as though ready to roll and begin new movements. The geometry recalls durer 1514 engraving of Melancholia I. Arranged opposite the large photograph wall the viewer it positioned at the angle that this performance took place in.
‘so I found myself transported, for those – for all those-seconds, into a kind of timelessness in which only this act and its unfolding, this now eternal click-click-clicking of my right hand’s fingers, did or could exist.’ (Tom McCarthy Satin Island)
I am beckoned into the next phase of the space. Lit with bright vertical strip lights fixed to the floor, I feel as though I’m walking on the ceiling. The room transposed and inverted, I am on the outside, a monolith structure imposes itself in the middle of the room, it appears fixed, but also to be balancing on stacks of wood and concrete. Faintly emanating from the centre a field of sounds breaking and landing heavily on a surface, quickly makes the viewer disorientated. A room that is never once still. In a sense the space is a deconstruction. Inverting itself the more you move within it.
The balancing structure became another room once you were inside- with the added abstraction of flecked lights from the strip lights outside filtering through a patch of tiny drill holes, cracks and divots in the wooden walls. I began to feel as though we were now moving through the darkness. You become engulfed by the ‘field’ as its form disrupts, explodes and re-makes itself.
‘or if not voices, at least patterns, with their ridges and their troughs, their repetition frequencies, their cadences and codas.’ (Satin Island, by Tom McCarthy)
Hardy uses spoken word alongside sounds of materials reacting or being affected in a variety of ways. Taking on a more bodily connection becoming more integrated into the fabric of the space. Hardy is interacting with the language of materials and spaces in a uniquely coded way.
‘the ventilation system.. was cavernous and booming…the coils, blowers, dampers, filters and so on that made up the boxes entrails transmitted a constant hum and rattle…mutating in pitch and frequency as the sound negotiated corners, bounced off the walls, was sponged up and squeezed out again by carpets.’
(Satin island Tom Mcarthy)
Into the next room there are a series of photographs and other two dimensional elements to this body of work. A time space for the viewer to see a new process growing out of the larger pieces. Like new nerve cells in the brain forming, there are explosions, flecks, tumultuous billowing as collections of smaller objects loom in the distance. The objects in the images appear to be in mid air, time slowed down to the point where everything is still. As a viewer now we are looking down gaining perspective on the chaos forming below.
‘it was as cool as water. Time wavered, sequentiality twisted, gravity lost its force….The earth expanded, then chilled and contracted…flesh melted to bone and blew away like dust…my body decomposed, blew apart-and was whole again.’’
( Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami )
Walking in with bare feet to the next large installation, a yellow short pile carpet covered wall to floor. Glowing, this landscape seems more open, yet disjointed, a trail to follow but can be done in any number of routes. In the distance you can hear uneven cadences and intonation, sound travels through the objects, becoming absorbed into the room, muffled and squashed. Each work in the room leads you into new terrain, this then alters how you interact with the piece. Vinyl tendrils form a cross hatch into the room. As it sways, you feel inclined to lie beneath it, once again altering the axis of the room. several glass sculptures, mound-like, full of breath seem to grow out of the ground. Getting closer to the sound now, they become randomised, even the speed and fluidity at which the words were spoken are disjointed, in a state of flux.
Field builds you into its expanse. It questions our experience of both real and fictional spaces. It allows the viewer to develop their own ‘drift’ through each part of the work, a leap into the psychogeography of new and unfamiliar places.
Concrete, industrial carpeting, wood, strip lighting – Hardy uses materials that are associated with the construction and make up of industrial environments/structures. The of such raw materials link to the immediacy of a Hardy’ working environment. They lend themselves to how they can be re-made, re- purposed and open to new interpretations.