In entirely different ways, the artists Roman Opalka (1931–2011) and Darren Almond (b. 1971) explore the very essence with which we grasp the progression and flow of time itself. Touching on the concepts of the finite and infinite, their works exist on the border of the perceptible, fading in and out of existence.
‘I’m fascinated by the idea that whenever anything seems too far away we turn to numbers. We’ll say: a million, billion, trillion, but we can’t really grasp the actual scale of them I’m naturally drawn to numbers. I love the abstract quality of maths and the idea that within the abstract realm everything needs to be in balance. You need to have nothing otherwise you can’t have anything.’ | Darren Almond
Each of the photographs in the series Present Form are titled with names in the old Norse language and depict the standing stones of Stennes that were taken on the mainland of Orkney, Scotland. Part of an ancient ring that originally comprised of 12 large megaliths, these standing stones form a neolithic monument that dates back to around 3100 BC.
Reasoning behind the creation of the ring remains unclear although it is likely it was linked to time measurement and astronomical observation. The stones reflect an expression of ritual and our primal need to measure and quantify the passing of time. Now covered with moss and vegetation, over five thousand years of history is written onto the stone surfaces, made visible by the camera’s deep focus.
The works confront the viewer with totem-like rock formations that are charged with an almost sacral mystique, withstanding the natural elements through centuries while having been touched by people through the ages. The notion of the macro and the micro, between nature and man and the dynamic between the infinite — space and time — and the finite — the inevitability of the end of human life — are all explored through Almond’s work.
In contrast, the abstracted clocks work titled Perfect Time and the paintings Chance Encounter004 and STREAM, all seemingly created by chance, reflect upon our digital modern age, and how subjected to timetables and restrained by time we become victims of our own technological progression.
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