Routine as solidified time

Space and time reveal themselves to us as separate entities. Although it is easy to understand that the two are interrelated, it is difficult for our brains to grasp them in a single integrated representation. In Western culture, we experience time as linear and space as non-linear. Physics recognises a four-dimensional space-time continuum, in which space and time are united.

In practice, representations in the arts belong either to the temporal or the spatial dimension. Music and film are considered linear, time-related arts, whereas painting and sculpture operate in space and are therefore seen as non-linear. A tonal composition can only be understood within a framework of time, while we can not appreciate a sculpture without taking its spatial aspects into consideration. History shows a long tradition of artists who have attempted to escape the dimensions of their domain. 16th century composer Thomas Tallis meant to dress and shape the inside space of cathedrals with his compositions. Within the visual arts, cubists and futurists aimed to avoid the anecdotal portrayal of one unique moment.

Frans Verschoor works within this tradition, trying to capture space-time in one single image. When he used to take his children to school, he noticed he wasn’t the only person who followed the same routine every day. Every morning, someone would come cycling around the corner at the exact same time. Elsewhere, a door would always open. The city is full of set structures. Repetition, routine, turns the anecdotal into the general. For Verschoor, a memory is not just a single event, but a collection of moments. With the advent of the digital camera, we can now photograph everything, everywhere at all times. He started to routinely photograph the same places and objects over time. This gave rise to collections of sometimes hundreds of photographs, which are blended together to a single image.

Apart from the series in time, Verschoor has also taken shots of the same subject in space, such as a tree photographed from many different sides. With this technique, he attempts to represent not just a tree, but the tree. Despite the use of digital techniques, Verschoor’s work doesn’t emanate digitality, but in its appearance rather refers to old paintings. For instance, the texture, created by the blurring effect of stacking photos, is sometimes reminiscent of the signature of a painter like William Turner, especially in those works that have the sea as their subject. Turner also worked on seascapes over an extended period of time, in which he too had to find a way to portray the movement of the waves.

Verschoor’s work also contains traditional themes, such as the recurring horizon. But first and foremost, the blended images form a Gestalt, an overall picture in which time is not linear, but cyclical. Routine becomes solidified time. One memory, consisting of many moments.

Kees Went, May 2014

(Translation Peppy Mac Ruairi)