Sunday, August 29, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Arun Sharma

(de)composition : self-portrait is an hour long video in which an unfired ceramic bust of the artist deteriorates in a contained pool of water. Shot through a clear glass box, the video gradually becomes foggy because of the dispersion of fine clay particles in the glass cube filled with water. A visual representation of the breakdown of the human form, (de)composition : self-portrait achieves a quiet and meditative transformation through the laws of entropy.

Entropy is essentially microscopic disorder. It describes the tendency for a contained system to go from a state of higher to lowest organization on a molecular level. We comprehend this intuitively when we melt an ice cube in a glass of water, or drop a cube of sugar into a cup of coffee. The changes always involve moving from disequilibrium or localized presence (eg. a substance) to equilibrium or dispersion (i.e. its surroundings). Thus, entropy affects the space into which a substance spreads.
The entropic goal is to erase the distinction between substance and surrounding.

This is seen clearly in Sharma's video : As the box shifts from transparency to opacity, the object within it becomes formless. As the surroundings go from invisibility to solidity, the entity goes from solidity to invisibility. The firmness rendered by the opacity of the medium means the absence of an object within it. Destruction of the substance of an earthen human form causes its surroundings, water in the box, to be full of the substance.

If the point of a closed system, like the one set up in this work, is to move from kinetic to potential energy, to the calmest state possible, then Sharma's questions run deep : How does entropy occur in a human body? Does the invisibility mean that it is dying?

Perhaps in response, are the artist's words : "The slow-falling flakes of clay and the floating tendrils of clay fog create a spiritual, calming element that I have not often associated with the idea of death. At the end of the hour long video, the falling debris creates a fog that eventually envelopes the head, signifying the way we are slowly forgotten in the memory of the living and are lost in history."

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