Light Readings: Glithero and the Matter of Fire

581 words

Gareth Evans

Glithero, Fire drawings (detail), installation view, 2012. Photo Tomas Rydin
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The bedroom ceiling streams like the surface – or depth – of a spring river running, in those moments when it is hard to tell whether it is water or light that fills the bed of the tributary. Phenomenal in all meanings, the room is suddenly and dramatically informed by its position in the cosmos in the most delicate and sensually direct way possible. The sun has, with John Donne’s poem in recollection, arrived at this chamber across the vast voyaging reaches of the galaxy.

Andrei Tarkovsky, From the film Mirror


Light makes it of course, all of it. The world is enlightened before it is anything else. The being-ness of the material universe (from Heidegger to Terrence Malick via Andrei Tarkovsky) is so bought home to us – and in the process makes us ‘at home’ – via the dancing interrelation of elements.

So it is with this morning’s revelation and its beautiful fact of being, The solar shaping of the space that would take place regardless of the brightness or not of the day is enabled towards grace by the simple intervention of an impromptu curtain – a handmade, patchwork blanket hooked onto nails above the pane, and stirring slowly in the breakfasting breeze. Its shifting suspension – fabric meeting the bright and wind – has enabled the ceiling to dance, and in doing so has visualised, of course, the core reality of all matter, its anti-stillness, its subatomic constellations of particles and great space, great tracts of nothing at all, held in place by forces barely appreciated still.

Glithero’s work understands this inherently, this further heightening of daily miracles through a conscious intervention in their process of becoming something else; or rather, in their process of waiting to become other. Designers in primary media (here, flame and its passage), the creative duo are in the lasting analysis designing processes, the products of which are essentially evidence, that at a particular moment something happened.


By Glithero


As mentioned previously, their installation here sits in a pleasurably ambiguous adjacency to Tracey Rowledge’s Surface. Playing with the cycling of darkness and light (the initial night of the wall drawing revealing itself as a gleam carrier), their take proposes fire and ash simultaneously – the residue wallworks (mandalas and symmetries of flame-crafted charcoal paths) minding us towards the inevitable outcome of the bright passage caught on the looping film of the venture.

The thing and its image… the bedrocks of art. But what is the thing and what is the image here; not talking about the film and its ‘painted’ tracework but rather of the fire and its burn…

Time and space… the bedrocks of existence. Time possible because it can manifest in space, or space only viable because it has duration in which to be and to become…

Work of the elements raises such elemental questions. Perhaps there is no answer to enquiries that in themselves can barely be named. Maybe observation of the awareness that things cannot be fixed – these relationships, between matter and mark, between process and representation, between the idea and the impact – is enough.

Maybe Thomas Mann is right…

“What was life? No one knew… It was warmth, the warmth generated by a form-preserving instability, a fever of matter, which accompanied the process of ceaseless decay and repair… it was not matter and it was not spirit, but something between the two, a phenomenon conveyed by matter, like the rainbow on the waterfall, and like the flame.” (from The Magic Mountain).

He undoubtedly is.