Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sumer Is Icumen In

By June 12 it was apparent that summer heat and humidity would not wait until the June 21 solstice to, let's be more neutral and say affect life in Raleigh, NC. My wife and I used the opportunity to escape into the climate controlled environment of the NC Museum of Art, where we enjoyed the special exhibit "0 to 60: The Experience of Time through Contemporary Art". Afterward, we explored the relatively new West Building, where we saw some works new to us.

We also revisited some "old friends".

While perusing outdoor sculpture... occurred to me to attempt my own visual statement on the experience of time. As I've already mentioned, it had become apparent that Sumer Is Icumen In, and the warmth tends to make it seem to me as if movement slows down, as if lethargy affects even periodic motion such as the swaying of tall grass in the breeze. (Ah, the breeze - that was most welcome!) I realize that reptiles, insects - and for that matter many people - may have an opposite reaction to hot weather. I'm not comparing such people to insects and reptiles! I'm just personally more energetic in cold climes and cool times.

Observing a confluence of contrails and clouds behind a sculpted metallic tree, I knelt to the ground to put it behind grass and ferns, focused on the gleaming silver branches, and waited for the right moment to release the shutter.

A photograph is in a way a frozen moment, but to me this is a dynamic sliver of time. I sense tension, reaching, convergence and separation, force and motion, action and reaction. In physical science, time itself is a difficult thing to define precisely. We rely on repeatable measurements - i.e., good clocks - to get a handle on time, and the explanation of the "arrow of time" (the observation that certain macroscopic events, such as mixing cream into coffee, seem to only occur "in one direction") may lie in cosmology and entropy. But I don't mean to imply that complex thoughts about time went into the creation of the image above (though they are often flitting about somewhere in my head). I do know that my personal experience of time along with thoughts provoked by viewing the museum exhibition made me see the elements in front of me in four dimensions, rather than three or two.



  1. Jess, your artful weaving together of illustration and narrative really is amazing. I'm glad I get to partake. :-)

    1. That's sweet of you to say. I will work hard to keep things interesting for my hordes of followers! ;)


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