Canada : Eric Cameron
Every Time and No Time
Every work of every art that has ever been made has an existence in time as well as in space, the sound waves that make up music and the book of poetry on the shelf no less than an easel painting or the Laocon. Traditional distinctions between spatial and temporal (space-based and time-based) arts may need to be clarified on this point, but this is not the place to do it. What is clear is that works of art that offer to their audience an unchanging spatial presence may yet invoke the experience of time as an aspect of their aesthetic form and expressive content.
Recognizing that a brush has moved across a surface to deposit a film of paint implies an awareness of the hand that held the brush and the mind that moved the arm; also of the fact that the film was applied on a particular occasion and congealed into a provisional finality under particular circumstances of temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure, subject to such hazards of physical shock or chemical reaction as may or may not have affected it in this instance.
The sense of the eternal in a work of art may have less to do with time than with causality: neither the delusion that we can embrace all time, nor the vain hope that we can free ourselves and stand outside time, but the realization that the work - and by extension, we - are thus and only thus and could not have been otherwise.
I have been working on some of my Thick Paintings for more than twenty years. I would ask that you allow them a little time.
Calgary, June 2000
In addition to the lengthy processes of production intimated above, I should point to Cameron's substantial concurrent body of work in the form of video, photography and installation. From his early "Notes for Video Art" (1973, reprinted in Peggy Gale and Lisa Steele, eds., Video re/View: The [best] Source Book for Critical Writings on Canadian Artists' Video, Toronto, Art Metropole / V Tape, 1996, p. 106-13) to such video works as Insertion Piece: A Mouth (1973) and Numb Bares (1976) or the installation Keeping Marlene Out of the Picture, exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada and elsewhere, Cameron has continued to question the nature of and reason for art production. Always challenging, Cameron keeps counsel with historical and intellectual bedrock, the personal content of his work embedded deep within the formal decisions and textual references so evident on the surface. In rare instances, one may also discover secrets there, folded away from sight.