Glasgow

Stansfield/Hooykaas, Day for Night IV, 2004, color video,15 minutes. Installation view.

Stansfield/Hooykaas, Day for Night IV, 2004, color video,15 minutes. Installation view.

Stansfield/Hooykaas

Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA)

Stansfield/Hooykaas, Day for Night IV, 2004, color video,15 minutes. Installation view.

Scottish artist Elsa Stansfield and her Dutch partner, Madelon Hooykaas, pushed the European time-based media scene with their intuitive explorations from 1972 until Stansfield’s sudden death in 2004, since which time Hooykaas has continued on her own. This winter, to accompany “Revealing the Invisible: The Art of Stansfield/Hooykaas from Different Perspectives,” Hooykaas compiled a book chronicling their work, featuring essays by eleven scientists, art historians, and philosophers from around the world. The exhibition itself—of video, sculpture, photography, and sound works from 1979 to the present—was held at two venues in Glasgow, where in 1975 the artists installed their first video environment at the Third Eye Centre (now the CCA). The show reflected the artists’ deep connection to nature and their exploration of time and space through phenomena such as the tide, the cycle of the seasons, radio waves, and magnetic fields. Works such as Song for a Stone, 1984, a smooth stone with headphones through which one can hear the sounds of the ocean, and Offerings, 1990, a tiny video inside an antique enamel box, draw the viewer into intimate worlds that become universal. Sound is key. The delicate clinking sounds in Offerings echo its circular video imagery, possibly a miniature cosmos, while the sound track accompanying the stone evokes the passing wind, the changing weather. Both works are meditations on impermanence.

Contemplation is at the core of Stansfield/Hooykaas’s practice; their works frame extended time to reveal layers of meaning. Day for Night IV, 2004, the last piece they created together, is a projection on a large round screen. A collage with clips from favorite films, snippets of sound tracks, and photo stills, it is a reflection on cinema and its influence on their work. Daydreaming, 2004–2006, begun with Stansfield and finished after her death, is based on the duo’s public artworks. It contains a wall projection with a hammock for the viewer, corresponding to Stansfield’s viewpoint as she shot it while lying in a hammock at the seashore—the tip of the hammock and the artist’s foot appear at times. The sound documents the sea, ambient nature, and an impending storm. Hooykaas’s poetic video projection Mount Analogue, 2010, montages two scenes in a single frame, with their connecting edges forming the outline of a mountain range. The bottom scene shows the artist walking with the camera focused on the ground at her feet, her shadow appearing at times. The top scene depicts the side of a green mountain through low wispy rain clouds moving past. Birch trees cover the mountain like thin, pale lines—they look like raindrops on the camera lens. At one point the two scenes dissolve, and the entire frame becomes the mountain. A line in graphite pencil disrupts the projection, tracing the outline of a mountain from the floor through the images and back again. With the pencil mark, the viewer is continually led from the particular to the whole—from the path to the mountain range, and back into the room. Lines from a 1977 poem by Stansfield resonate through these works: “For us life is like a circle. Coming from nowhere and going everywhere. Touch a stone; the dream reawakens in a moment. The echoes return.”

Lauren Dyer Amazeen