Friday, 19 August 2011

Details of a white wall

13 June 2010.

I had occasion to study carefully a patch of wall in the room I was staying in when I had the 'flu at the beginning of June last year. It lay right up close to my face when I was turned on my left side. The white wall's markings and absence of markings were a ground for my fevered imaginings in and out of sleep. As the fever passed my field of vision broadened and I began to observe the passing hours in the room by the changing light and shapes of shadows cast. The white walls returned to sites of unfocussed attention, planes reflecting light or holding shadows - places to put pictures on, but not to find pictures in.

John Cage said of Rauschenberg's White Paintings series that the panels hung on the walls functioned “like a clock of the room” in the way that they served as recorders and reflectors of patterns of light and shadow over the course of a day. In a sense then the White Paintings are without frames - or rather the frame of looking at them is not formed by the obvious boundaries: it is an enlarged frame that seeps into the environment.
Within a frame a different, imaginative time operates, that too of fever or sleep.

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