Vertical Time and Thoughts on Timelessness
It is spring and many shops now open their doors to welcome back people (in London, where I live). Last weekend I stepped into a gallery space for the first time in almost half a year. It was a solo exhibition for Wycliffe Stutchbury and I was glad that I chose it as the first gallery experience after months of indoor life — I had an unexpectedly meditative moment there.
His works (mainly panel and screen) are made of thin and tiny pieces of timber, which he picks up and saws especially for the one piece of art. He names his work after the specific place he found the timber. He explains that the sense of provenance, what the timber has experienced plays a key role in his work. In his words, timbers are “absorbing environments.” Surrounded by his work, what I felt was the flow of time. The time represented by the history of a tree, and also the time the artist spends on the piece, interpreting the story behind a tiny piece of wood.
Seeing his work, I remembered what John Berger said in “The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portrait of John Berger”— documentary film on his life in Quincy, an idyllic village in rural France — “people live in an endlessly extensive present moment with collections of the present. An enormous extension of the instant, but it’s as if it were geographic and spatial. In the country (like Quincy), that extension is vertical and it’s to do with time.” Wycliffe Stutchbury’s work goes vertical in time and I recognised that is why such a tranquil atmosphere filled the gallery space.
Generally, graphic designers have to swim well in the massive sea of present — put it in a bland way, it could be called the sea of trends. Being trendy does, not always but in many situations, play a part in graphic design. But there is another quality that a good graphic design achieves — timelessness. And its foundation is on understanding of human beings and their perception — its nature does not change in a short amount of time. We may float on tides of trends that come and go, but the sea of timelessness is always calm.