Artists Sylvia Matas, Warren McLachlan, and Tanya Rusnak think about nightshades, mechanical waves, optical phenomena, and unfathomable distances. They wander through fields of the in-between, while convergent forces in spaces not easily seen testify to the density of voids as generative spaces. An essential, but nebulous, question emerges: what is happening in the darkness?
In The moon is moving away from earth at a rate of about 4cm per year (2013), Sylvia Matas makes a gesture intended to span a distance that cannot be fully comprehended by sight alone. Her arm is traced on the gallery wall, a reimagining of our very first artworks: Lascaux now. It is a simple, personal act that both emphasizes and belies the distance between bodies (astral and corporeal), while measuring the intimate sensitivity of our own body to register where we end and everything else begins. Matas’ outstretched arm is a generous full extension of its own distance, but it also brings her that much closer.
The moon is but a member of a family of particles in the drawings of Tanya Rusnak. Her images are intricate, precise. In this exhibition she presents an encyclopedic record of dust and the forces that propel it: rocks, star fields, clouds, meteor showers, and volcanic eruptions. Her drawings, accompanied by mounds of resting salt, are executed with the patience and care of a manuscript illuminator, reminding us of mystical pursuits. Several times removed from their original sources, these images approach the spectral, revealing visitors from another realm. Together, they are like a library of the unknowably far away – long past or distant future.
The darkness also includes creatures of the night. Warren McLachlan has built two bat houses, each large enough to house a small colony of Myotis Lucifugus, the brown bat. Copper clad, they double as antennas – passive receivers of incessant radio waves. There is a house for the outside, mounted on the gallery’s facade, and one for the inside. I wonder which the bats will choose, but more pressingly: what effect will a bat’s echolocation sonar have upon incoming radio waves and what effect will these waves have upon the bats? Would freak resonant frequencies allow a bat’s ear to inadvertently tune into midnight concertos?
Among other artworks in Resonant Field, these projects recognize unseen realms and the forces and desires that span them. Forms begin to emerge from the invisible when these artists look to the deep memory of the self-organizing system, the elusiveness of language, conductivity, ratios of the body, constellations, specks, calendars. Matas, McLachlan, and Rusnak create works like palindromes; they can be read in multiple directions, as ideas that begin at their own center, their outstretched hands reaching into the rich, ripe darkness.
Jason de Haan is a Canadian artist, his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.