Minutiae: Objects, Photographs and a Rare Moment of Artistic Collusion
Artist Rob Van Beek
The subjects of Sookyoung’s current photographs are minute and hard to label clusters of stuff – hair, fluff and so forth. This stuff is intensely human, personal and universal but is also marginal.
I believe these studies (and the future work that I expect to come from them) to be part of a critical moment. Along with the studies of artists such as Michael Bowdidge, myself and others these photographs re-open an important seam of possibilities. Some might say this field was a kind of ‘minimalism’, but this would not be correct. I believe what is re-emerging is a renewed interest in both works and in the world through its minutiae. This is at once a scientific, artistic and human curiosity. I believe there is currently a range of artists in different art forms investigating this area. It is an enthusiasm, for example, shared by both the makers of objects and the takers of photographs. Underlying this curiosity is a reverential wonder at the sheer richness, subtly, detail and complexity of things, even in things that are typically regarded as having no social, economic or cultural value.
There is, it has to be admitted, a lot of stuff in the world and humanity sometimes seems dedicated to degrading more and more of it. How do artists begin to select a subject and break the habit of merely using and discarding things? William Blake’s famous lines suggest a strategy:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand.
And Eternity in an hour “
The secret is to particularise, to realise that there are only particular things and that generalities are but tools. As one focuses on particularities so those details are lifted out of their usual timeframe. Photography is a great particulariser and a great lifter of things from their usual timeframes.
Universally artists have a duty tochange and develop social attitudes to stuff.
Everything has beauty and everything value if we can only get ourselves off the treadmill to appreciate it.