Sunday, December 26, 2010

Addendum to a comment: Anley Piers' "Human Energy" revisited

I was honoured and gratified following my most recent posting, which included comment about Anley Piers' piece Human Energy, to receive a little enlightenment from the artist, directing me to the amazing sim Mysterious Wave where the whole original piece is exhibited. She cryptically commented that I had correctly identified Human Energy as a piece twinned with another work, and I had assumed that she was confirming my identification of her other piece in this month's competition, Travel in the shadow of technology, as the twin of Human Energy. However, I dutifully booked my taxi to Mysterious Wave, wanting to see the work in its original context - and was astounded to find that Human Energy as displayed at UWA is indeed one of a pair of twins - but the twin is a complementary version of Human Energy!

What one finds displayed at Mysterious Wave, then, are two complementary pieces forming the whole work, arranged almost like bookends in a surprisingly stark and foreboding landscape. The complementary piece displayed only at Mysterious Wave takes the form of a yin to the yang of the one displayed at UWA. Both take the form of an incandescent light globe represented as the head of a humanoid figure composed otherwise of technical piping components. While at UWA the globe is burning, but is not connected to the power source, the complementary piece depicts a globe very much connected to the electrical grid, and yet the globe is darkened and shattered.

Anley Piers Human Energy (the other half)
(detail from the original piece in situ at Mysterious Wave)

The message of the piece becomes now even more mysterious. It is clear that connection to the wider power grid is in fact counterproductive for Piers' 'human globes'; they only operate as intended when disconnected from a wider scheme of things, giving off light and energy independently, acting unilaterally as their own inspiration. When connected to a wider network, when operating as 'intended' or 'designed', they will shatter and fail.

I circle the work, pondering, mystified, lifting the hem of my kimono to avoid the soiling of the mud, my geta sandals sticking and impeding my progress, but I am determined to penetrate this work with my mind and my soul. The globes seem to be metaphors for people, and for people who are intended to shine forth in a dark and dismal place. Yet they are people who operate against the norm, against expectations, who shine independently, and who cannot shine when conforming to a standard pattern. The mist starts to lift as the sun begins to rise, and the mist of my mind and understanding perhaps begins to clear as well. Could these globes represent the artists of this entrancing and unusual gallery, this place which by its very name declares itself a place of mystery? I sense that such as Anley Piers and her colleagues Cherry Manga and Elfe Imako would not conform to any norm, that they would be stifled and indeed shattered and extinguished by energy sources common to people of the mainstream. They must act freely and independently, and only then can they shine out their creative glow, incandescent in the darkness that populates so much of any world, second, first or many-teenth.

Have I understood this work? I am not confident. But it has spoken to my heart, it has intrigued me, and caused me to wrestle within myself. I think the artist has achieved her purpose, and may not be too displeased with my contemplations of her efforts.

I only wish I had time to wrestle with each of the works displayed at UWA this month. Christmas is here and gone with all the social whirl this time involves. I have some scribblings in my notebook for a few more works, and some photos burning space on my hard disk, and the closing date for entries approaches fast. And life calls me in another world, where I also belong and love and hope and dream. I know, though, that my university's platform awaits when I can return, and that samples from endless galleries will enthrall me again. Life is so full, in this world and the other, how can I enjoy it all? And people tell me there are other worlds yet unvisited or unimagined by me... I shake my head and close my laptop sadly, knowing there is so much I will never see.

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