Deeper into Nothing Film No. 2
Video with optional artist’s commentary
Deeper into Nothing Film No. 2, a video with optional artist’s commentary, will be on show at The Dock Art’s Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Ireland from 3rd December 2010 until 22nd January 2011. For the record I have transcribed the commentary below and have a few more addition words about it below.
On a surface level I see the visual part of this film as the seeming nothing and the commentary as its depth. I don’t see the commentary as the final word on the project or the film, it’s just what I felt that day. Lately I’ve also been connecting the “Nothing is real” line from The Beatles ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ to this project and am seeing it as very much the literal interpretation of that line. There is hope at the core of this project as well. As when all appears lost and nothing is left, that can be the transformative moment when you finally see the one worthwhile thing more easily and the undoubted infinity of possibilities it offers. That is when I have found my most vital work as an artist. Less is always more, limitations are necessary.
“Hi this is Stephen Rennicks and welcome to this commentary for the video of mine you are now watching. It was first made for an exhibition at the Dock arts centre in Carrick on Shannon, Ireland at the end of 2010. The piece is part of a project I began in 2009 called ‘Deeper into Nothing’ and also shares this title. This project explored in various ways how the seeming nothing of the present moment, the now, can really be viewed as a point of infinity or limitless potential. In Taoism they refer to something called the wu which means "void" or "nothingness". But to them Wu is not simple nothingness either, but rather a formless and infinite potential. To balance this with the Christian tradition, St. Augustine said, "Where there is nothing there is God." That is how I see it anyway and exploring this truth is part of the journey I am on both as an artist and a human being. My main interest and the stated objective of my work of the last 6 years is to find ways of bringing people to a more objective awareness of the now and hopefully people can find things out about themselves if they engage with the work as I know I certainly have in the process of making it. I was lucky enough to discover this subject when I was in my early twenties and read The Outsider by Colin Wilson. In the late 50’s he was already describing something he called faculty X which in my opinion other more contemporary writers like Eckhart Tolle, who I also have a lot of time for, refined to the now. But this concept is ancient and I am just one more person in this chain.
The subject here is fire, which is pure, eternal and can only exist in the moment. By abstracting it here by both putting it on video and disguising it somewhat by having it out of focus I feel I have created a new representation of this elemental force which can itself only now exist in the moment of being viewed. I hope I have managed to make the imagery as simple and universal for each person to find their own interpretations of how it could relate to their personal experience of the moment but for the sake of this commentary I am about to go a good bit further in this without I hope cheating people of gaining ownership of it by their own efforts. Taking the title as a guide, I personally see the light source as a metaphor for an awakened human life lived now in a more pure and unpredictable form.
The idea for the commentary itself perhaps came from the artist Robin Whitmore who was at an opening of mine in 2007 and was listening to me explain some of the work I had on show there and afterwards I remembered him telling me that he wished there was a button he could press beside each piece which would have triggered my recorded explanations. I quite liked this idea in a way and knew what he was getting at and I suppose I just hadn’t found a way to do this in a way I felt comfortable with until now. In other projects and pieces I’ve made in the past a search has often been an important element which I would quite deliberately include. In this case I see listening to this commentary as that aspect. This search aspect for me refers to the always ongoing search we are all on for the meaning of life and our quest to find our true self. Both goals which are very hard to permanently grasp as we and the world are constantly in flux. And very much as in quantum physics, we soon find that we can’t really study ourselves without affecting the outcome of the experiment. Of course staying awake to these types of insights will always be difficult, maybe impossible but we can of course get glimpses of ourselves and the wider meaning in the moment. Just to speak a little bit about the presentation here itself. As the commentary is optional, the piece should always be presented on a monitor with headphones as it has been designed in the normal way to work from purely the title and imagery alone.
Once I knew what I was trying to say I then had to find a way to incorporate that into how I would be saying it. That led to the decision that the video should be in real time, therefore without edits. As edited footage by definition creates an illusion or false record of reality. Which would be the opposite effect of what I’m trying to achieve here. I know that the impulse for some of you will be to resist the real-time aspect here, but by confronting this very robotic resistance and allowing the moment to just simply unfurl as it will. The feeling of acceptance and non resistance to it is being in the moment. Being fully present in the moment and no longer impatient for it to be over or wishing you had never started. In this acceptance I believe you can find a new definition of freedom. And you can now of course do it anytime you wish as you live in real-time after all. As I said, you just have to embrace it, becoming fully present to it fir it to happen. If you haven’t already guessed, the light source you are seeing on screen is simply a flickering candle in its last stages of life. I used a pretty standard Sony video camcorder for this purpose which uses magnetic Hi 8 tape to store the image. This is what I have access to but also because it is an analogue recording medium it will not pixelate, which would have happened here using digital when going for an out of focus effect. I am also under the illusion that analogue gives a smoother, warmer, more natural looking image as well, which I think it has this time. Luckily the transfer from analogue to digital DVD, which you are now viewing, remains true to its source. This was all shot in my kitchen where I am also now recording this commentary. I made the final master copy with a lot of wires plugged into the back of my hardware DVD burner and some good timing in switching the audio and video on and off at the same time. Which is how I like to work, primitive but effective as I’ve always been interested in getting the viewer more quickly past the how and onto the why of my work. As while how the work looks and is constructed is very important to me, I’m much more focused on creating that subjective moment of understanding between the work and the viewer, which may not happen straight away. With this in mind I don’t want to state here what may or may not be so obvious about doing this commentary for this particular video of the seeming nothing but what I could have said is itself infinite. Some of which you can find at a website I have made about this project, located at deeperintonothing.blogspot.com.
So thank you for listening and watching.”