David Hume on the problem of induction is one of several sources Michael Stevenson integrates into the narration of On How Things Behave, 2010, his most recent video work, which prominently includes tracking shots of a seawall in northern Spain that has been decorated by a hermit using paints washed up by the tide. In the measured, German-accented voice-over, the eighteenth-century philosopher’s arguments sound at once prosaic and arcane, curiously patient and unreasonable. The abstract question of how we can speak about the universal when all we experience is specific couldin this very particular articulationserve as a figure for a central concern of an artist whose work consistently negotiates interchanges between periphery and center, marginal historical detail and global issues.
Stevenson turns drawings and objects both appropriated and imaginative into clues to
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