It was a brave soul who ventured outside the warmth of my flat today, to see some art, of all things. And to get cigarettes, but that isn’t really a voluntary action. But I’m glad I did venture out, even if my hands have still failed to return to normal functioning. I hurried towards Mother’s Tankstation, truly hoping it would be worth the trip. It was: Laura Buckley’s Waterlilies more than justified it. The exhibition comprised of a small sculptural work, ‘RGB’, and the ambitious four channel video installation ‘Oblique Horizons’, both dating from this year. The sculptural piece was effective in a quiet way, shadow existing as structural component in giving the work depth not found in its simple materiality. But I found it only made sense after consideration of the other, vaster work to be found in the main gallery space.
‘Oblique Horizons’ consists of a sea of Perspex forms, which are placed on the floor in a subtly regimented manner. These shapes slowly rotate in motorized chorus, and a plethora of extension leads connect them to one another, like capillaries. Among the shapes there are projectors, which cut through these shapes, refracting their colourful trajectories on the surrounding walls. Other projectors intrude on the shapes from outside, picking up distortion as they pass through. The videos are almost word like; a collection of clips that hold no weight by themselves, but in their entirety illustrate an almost childlike predilection for colour and pattern. It is so colourful; projectors often dampen the effect of colour, but for some reason they are powerless here. Added to this, the darkness around the installation only further accentuates its luminosity. An audio track adds to a feeling of hesitant awe; faltering piano playing, bells, chimes and watery sound effects all give the work a rooting in the everyday, but its a solemn, almost mystical one.
And so I sat myself down at its perimeter, and let the strangely hypnotic effect take hold. The videos, these short segments of footage, remind me of that clichéd life-flashing-before-your-eyes scenario. Maybe it’s not the big important events that flash before us, but the small, the seemingly minor: rain hitting water in an insistent torrent, the sweet smell of grass, the taste of salt water on your lips. These clips remind me of the way a child might apprehend the world, the ‘luxury of a child’s soul’, as Kavanagh put it. Perhaps it’s these things that actually matter, maybe on a phenomenal level. I’m not sure, but maybe that’s what Buckley is hinting at. There’s something beautiful, transcendent, in these minor phenomena. Patterns, shapes and colour allude to an order present, from which humanity is excluded. Though they might be shaped or defined by our presence, we cannot in truth fully know them. Or explain why, on occasion, they seem so perfect. They just appear, flashing up in a moment of lucidity as we think to ourselves, ‘how didn’t I see that before?’
The mechanisms of the work are indeed convoluted: motorised elements, Perspex, four videos, four projectors, a mass of wires and a soundtracks consisting of diegetic and non-diegetic sound. But I think there’s a simplicity that transcends all that, perhaps it was necessary to go to such lengths in order to attain it. There’s a sublimity in the work, that somehow becomes accentuated by an exploration of all the things we take for granted. This extends even to the simple and raw materiality of the work’s composition. Wires are in plain view, mechanisms of working take as much a part of the work as the process, which they enact. To make a work like this is to use a whole load of equipment, that much is obvious. But this is not hidden, therefore it cannot be taken for granted. Like the everyday moments captured in the videos, the nuts and bolts of art, like the nuts and bolts of living, are all too often ignored or hidden. What Buckley does is counter this tendency, equating the everyday’s resonance not only in beauty, but also occasionally in the sublime.