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SAD gallery response

Robert Lyksett
ARTS 1601

Reflection of SAD Artwork
Robert K Lyksett

When trying to choose a piece to write about, I quickly gravitated toward the video work on the far wall in the first part of the gallery. “Endless Day� by Jan Estep is a “Time Lapse Digital Video,� a work of art utilizing a digital medium to present itself. “Endless Day� however, has one vital difference that finally made me choose it above all the other pieces in the gallery; it’s letting the visual speak for itself. While the other pieces in the SAD gallery utilize very specific audio or text to convey a specific idea to the viewer (such as the giant pincushion spewing out “empty condolences� as the artist wants to use to instill a hopeless emotion in the viewer), “Endless Day� has neither. Instead, Estep’s video lets the viewer draw their own conclusions completely, using no editing, sound, text, or other narrative devices to form the opinion/emotional response of the viewer.

Without these artificial devices, Estep’s work actually is more inspirational than any of the other pieces in the gallery. While every artist featured in this gallery was trying to capture the essence of particular environments and atmospheres and their effect on humans, Estep was the only artist who allowed that environment (and consequently, her visual work) to speak for itself. The Weisman description of the show describes the art of SAD as addressing “a sense of place focused not on land, but on the qualities of light and atmosphere, and the sense of time to which these elements relate.� “Endless Day� fits this description perfectly, particularly because the light is the most powerful element of the entire piece. Indeed, the light of the sun becomes the defining feature of the artwork, acting not only as the focal point, but also as the device to reveal the entire image (such as when the water shimmers as the sun passes over it, revealing the terrain to be an ocean). “Endless Day� offers an excellent way to study the light qualities of the sun, such as the way the beam of light is reflected on the water, lying in an intense, parallel beam across the ocean surface. Five other straight beams of light shine from the sun and remain stationary throughout its entire revolution.
The revolution of the sun in this piece is one of the most important things the artist wanted to show in this piece; or rather, Ester wanted to show the lack of conventional solar revolutions. The sun does not really “rise� or “set� in the entire time lapse of “Endless Day� but rather, it moves across the screen in a horizontal line (not the arc we are so used to). This video was taken high in the Northern Hemisphere, allowing the camera to show solar activity that cannot be seen anywhere else, such as the 24 hours of sunlight that give this piece its name and focal point. However, a sense of revolving and change in time can still be discerned from this video without the traditional arc of the sun; the lens flare has a definite arc (steadily moving from the right hand to the left hand side of the screen), as well as several movements in the piece that give a sense of changing time. For example, the clouds move steadily from the left side of the screen until they are met by a massive storm front from the top of the screen that intercepts the other clouds and creates a blackened sky that lasts until the end of the film.
Knowing all of these things and seeing their movement, we presume that we can get a sense of where the place is, what we are viewing, and get out bearings. Interestingly, this proves a difficulty. One could assume that at least one set of the clouds and fronts are moving from southwest to northeast, as most fronts do, but this would mean that the Sun is moving from the West to the East as well (the opposite of what it really does). So one of the theories must be incorrect. The more thought we give it, the more confusing it becomes, and this is what is so interesting about this piece. “Endless Day� treats the viewer to a confusing and amazing natural spectacle through the use of strong light and movement, making it one of the most effective and impressive pieces in the Weisman’s exhibit.