Single-Channel Video and Sculpture Installation with Digitally Projected and Mapped Abstract Animation on Walnut, 2x2x72 in, 6:15 (loop).

She’s Always Been Gone is a  progression in the visual vocabulary and logic I’ve been developing over the past several years. Light is the source of phenomenological activity and my practice is a mode of looking. In this work, light is given an object with interesting enough material qualities to warrant our attention, to be manipulated through hiding and revealing, and to cause the physical properties of  light, itself, to be perceived.

This scrap of walnut was once a living  structure. Exactly adapted to its original place - each cell grew in precise and particular relation to that location and moment. Incredibly specific, it reads as purposeful and avoids  metaphor. It has been repeatedly removed,  re-purposed and discarded. Each time it is displaced, it’s specific qualities are divorced from their purpose.  Nearly all purpose - both natural and utilitarian - has now been rendered useless. What remains is the evidence of a compounded removal from place. Displaced from context by the non-place that is my studio, the material specificity of this unique object receives all of our attention.

Metaphor and symbolism point to meaning outside of the perceptual encounter. This is detrimental to art. Empirical learning through perceptual encounter challenges us to actively participate in our world; to use our powers of perception to evaluate and interpret what we encounter rather than let a truncated and economized set of senses - which are incredibly and inescapably  influenced by social constructs - determine how we understand even the most basic aspects of reality.

Reality is not distinct from the self. Subtle emotional engagement is important so viewers can be fully present with the work. While making this piece, I was thinking a lot about grief. Specifically, ambiguous grief: on-going grief for someone who is living but has somehow been lost.

Due to her mental illness, there have been very few times in my life when I’ve been able to emotionally connect with my mother. Rather, it’s been an on-going cycle of wanting, losing, and grieving her. This emotional touch-stone is not the subject of this piece. Rather, it helped inform my choices regarding things like pacing and color. Reflected only in the title, I want to provide a subtle emotional access point - just enough for people to sense themselves as part of an otherwise outwardly focused perceptual encounter.

My work continues the phenomenological aims of Minimalism - to engage people with the world directly - while also acknowledging emotional engagement as a strategy for stimulating thought outside of ideological constructs.

Installation Stills

Earlier Iterations

© 2024 Pamela Hadley