Ineffable is a dirty word for a writer. It means something like, "A concept you just can't put into words." Discussing The Deep Novelty Harvest Colony -- a stereoscopic art installation that makes its debut tonight at Hinterland Gallery -- with artist Andrew Elijah Edwards, you enter a philosophical wrestling match with the ineffable nature of his art. After all, his images are trying to create a visceral experience that he believes cannot be captured in language. In advance of the show's opening, Westword spoke with Edwards about the ideas behind his work.
What it ends up being is this library of these spaces that people will navigate through. You walk into the space and there will be a variety of these viewing stations, and as you go up to them you can move from space to space at your own leisure, and it becomes this strange dream that people are moving through.
As you're moving through these spaces, there are hundred and hundreds of these photos. I wanted to create a continuous exploration where you can keep moving out forever and ever and ever and never find the edge of it. These emerging spaces are a kind of wildlife and hopefully allow the viewer to get the visualness and the quality and dimensionality of these spaces by heightening the edges of the forms.
Read on for more from Andrew Elijah Edwards.
Can you unpack what you mean when you talk about this visceral experience of space?
Sure. It's a little bit hard to put into words, but it's a feeling that I've been trying to capture for a long time through a variety of different works. It's a deep, existential sensuality about what it is to be aware of existing, looking out and feeling form and space around you and this quality of feeling the world from the inside.
There are also ways in which I'm interested in consciousness itself. You could very easily talk about how the world that we're experiencing is something that's happening pretty much solely inside of our consciousness. There is certainly a world outside of us, but the space that we experience is one based on concepts and language. The form that we experience is happening inside of our minds. So there is a sense that the spaces we experience are the consciousness that you're residing in as well -- this idea of feeling the world as if it is yourself.
Where does narrative or symbolism fit into this framework? Or is this a framework that is entirely space-based?
I'm certainly trying to capture getting away from "the thing to look at," "the thing to name" or "the thing to hold onto conceptually." That's tricky, but it's something that I'm working with. Also, the types of spaces that I'm capturing, they tend to be very closeup angles or faraway angles. When you're looking at them, you don't readily go, "Oh, that's a table or that's a chair or that's a light switch." They're often textures in nooks and crannies that often we don't easily know how to name. They're just the bits of the world that we don't easily put words to. My intention is to create spaces that you can really see for the first time. It's tricky to do because we are built out of language, and we interact with the world through language. There are ways you can try and circumnavigate that and hopefully I can do that, at least a little bit.
Read on for more from Andrew Elijah Edwards.
How does the stereoscopic technology relate to this question of language?
I guess it's not direct. The language piece is to help you be more aware of where I'm coming from when I'm making this work. It's more about capturing the quality of being of space itself in this visceral way. When I have experiences moving outside of the direct linguistic apprehension of the world, there is a kind of spatial visceralness that I experience. I feel the space. I'm also experiencing the self-presence of immediate experience. That space takes on a kind of deeply weighted visceral quality where I can almost feel the edges and the inside of anything of substance or maybe talk about consciousness itself as a substance.
This ability to capture space itself in its own form somehow gets at holding space itself instead of looking at the space we were in in terms of language or symbolic representation. This is inevitably an imitation of that by doing it virtually and through photography, but the experience of looking at these spaces stereoscopically, when I get it just right, has a similar feeling to me as looking out at the world and at space as it is there on its own rather than as it is thought about.
Is there a spiritual dimension to this work, or is it purely philosophically or scientifically driven?
For me, there is definitely a spiritual dimension. I don't know if I would use the world "spiritual," but a lot of my visual work has been about this feeling of being separated from the world by myself, in a certain way, or being pushed out into the world to get a direct connection and moment with the world. Certainly the process has to do with this.
There is a transcending quality to all of my work where I'm trying to get to something that is the most real or the most true and to me that is the physical world and the beauty of something on its own, the beauty of the world existing because of the thing itself.
Representing essence is a difficult pursuit.
Yeah. It might be an endless paradox that we are inevitably human minds trying to get outside of our human minds or certain perspectives trying to get outside of our perspectives. But the pursuit of that certainly illuminates things about the world that I think are important. And I think these things are quite necessary in our current condition, in the sense that I think apathy and the quality of not really caring about the world comes from not ever seeing it in its true qualities.
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