We often say that time flies, because what we say today can never be repeated in the same way. Tomorrow, when we try to recall today, we will find that it has turned into yesterday; our memories will have found a new orbit.
Say.To.Day celebrates the accelerating pace and mood of the moment. It is an online collaboration; an art project announced as ‘multilingual and cross-territorial architecture’ by Hong Kong-based, independent curator Ying Kwok and Japanese artist Yutaka Inagawa. Its mission is to destroy boundaries.
The project has two entities: a website and an Instagram page. I click, tap, swipe, and look at my screen, drifting deeper and deeper into the latter. The sheer vibrancy of the colours refreshes. Although the squares are flat and monochromatic, it feels like strolling around in an airy, light-filled space. The breeze that blows across the squares is notable. I can sense dark, hollow chambers beneath the clear, cool abstract shapes. The mood is tectonic, though it also feels like opening a box of chocolates - how many more layers are there, and where are the best ones? In the structures beneath the surface, there are images in abundance, showing lines, textures, but also amazingly vivid rocks, vegetation and everyday objects. Each one is photographed outside its context, and some inhabit a domain almost beyond the reach of language.
This relationship between connected and disconnected reminds me of Duchamp’s famous essay ‘The Creative Act’. In it, he cites the artist who lives today as well as the future spectator who lives in the artist’s tomorrow. He writes: ‘To all appearances, the artist acts like a medial being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to clearing.’ In today’s terms, the labyrinth might be identified in the unplanned connections that link us all together; the global network. And since there is no longer a dominant narrative, we each find our own ‘clearing’ by staring at the spaces between disconnected assets.
Each time I look, I find details that I had missed before. For example, in the navigation menu, words are paired, up and down, upside down or backwards; there are keys and common structural elements in the pairs, and some of the terminological content is phonetically, poetically, semantically or structurally aligned.
In answer to my observations, the artist says: ‘We wanted to create a sense of illogical and nonsensical, a poetic zone. To create something illogical, I have to have a certain amount of logical elements, because being illogical is different from being chaotic. So I wanted to create another level of decipherability within two parallel lines of navigation menus by manually applying a different formula to create a pair.’
Hit by COVID-19, it is not surprising that not only artists like Kwok and Inagawa, but also museums, galleries and art fairs are turning to the digital world to serve their purposes. Perhaps digital art will rise up and devour the ‘real’ world. A few weeks ago, a large composite painting consisting of 5,000 individual JPEGs was auctioned at Christie’s in London. It was entirely digital and fetched $69 million. In contrast to trading numbers, Kwok and Inagawa have managed to create a beautiful space that permeates the squares and abstract forms, revealing multiple layers of imagery.
This allows the viewer to stumble upon further delights and curiosities. It is a beautiful sensibility that presents qualities to the viewer, albeit in an unusual, delightful perplexing way.