Meditation is a practice aimed at removing one from the narrative of a time-bound life and bringing consciousness to rest in the present instant, where the past is forgotten and the future does not exist, perhaps as close as a living human can get to suspending time. Clearly a result of suspending time, viewed from a temporal perspective, is monotony – eternally. I have been interested in how some artworks can give a feeling of suspended time. The stillness seen in paintings by Thomas Jones or the photographs by the Bechers, seem to have a meditative quality.
A photograph of a bleak village being flown over by four helicopters in perfect formation was the starting point for recent work. It accompanied an article about Sino-Russian military manoeuvres; the specially built village of Pashino was given hell and finally liberated. The participating armies were well pleased, the only losers, apparently, were ‘the people of a nearby village who had hoped that [the] six armies might pulverise their own ghastly shacks and then rehouse them.’ (The Economist, 23 Aug, 2007). The precise positioning of the helicopters gives the image a paradoxically static quality.
Is this photograph of the inhabited village or the doomed Elysium?
Are the helicopters actually coming here or just passing by on their way to a more important place?
What is going on?