Time & Ritual

Sunrises January – March 2021, Leah Wilson – This is a simple system that involves taking a photograph every morning at sunrise, color correcting the image while comparing it to the actual sunrise, and posting it on social media stories.

My projects involving time as a subject need to have a system containing specific acts that must be consistently repeated. The system unifies the project creating a structure, in part, to sift through information and to cull extraneous and distracting elements. The system creates a focused yet incomplete interpretation of my phenomenological experience of a particular time and place filtered through my perception. Time is revealed through the system.

Ambient Sustem (Ritual) White Rock and Color Checker, Leah Wilson

Ambient’s White Rock & Color Checker – Components of the system (ritual), Leah Wilson

The perception of time in a place is revealed through memory. Memory holds a reference point to perceive change and to sense a unified and cohesive narrative flow of events, like when listening to music. Music comprises a multitude of discrete notes played in a specific order. Listening to music requires mental fluidity and memory, holding sounds and sequences from the past and integrating them into the notes of the present. There is also an anticipation and expectation that the progression of sound will continue into the future until it reaches its conclusion. Time expands from the present in both directions, past and future.

Music has a systematic arrangement of notes. Notation ensures the pattern can be repeated again in the future. The repetition will be similar to the original, but it will not be an exact replication.

Ambient - Iterations of Lookout Creek's System, Leah Wilson

Ambient – Iterations of Lookout Creek’s System, Leah Wilson

The same holds true for systems created for my projects. A documented system ensures that the sequence can be repeated in the future with the understanding that each iteration will be similar, but not an exact replica in technique or outcome. The system produces reference material and the ephemera holding the memory of the project’s focus. The anomalies and inconsistencies produced within the system add a human tension arising from imperfection. This is some of the stuff that makes art compelling and accessible. It speaks to the human condition even if no human aspects are explicitly present in a composition.

Human Error: Watershed 3; White Rock; October 11, 2014; 3:43 PM, Oil on Wood Panel, 40 in. x 40 in., Leah Wilson

Human Error: Watershed 3; White Rock; October 11, 2014; 3:43 PM, oil on wood panel, 40 in. x 40 in., Leah Wilson

This musing has still been an exploration of material process. It feels safer to talk about this aspect of process – it simply is what it is and it produces results in the art that can be pointed to and referenced. The part of the process that becomes less comfortable to divulge is the exploration of any spiritual facets of the systematic process: the ritual.

I am devoted to the process of integrating specific systems into my projects. Each discrete system builds upon the previous and my empirical knowledge grows alongside the more intangible knowledge. This is the space where systematic processes transform into rituals that may indeed be spiritual in nature. The resulting wonder gleaned from the ritualistic performance of the system’s procedures feeds a part of my human spirit that systematic research for empirical knowledge alone does not provide. There is an additional intention embedded within the system.

Listening to the Forest System, Leah Wilson

Listening to the Forest’s system (Ritual) was climbing the Discovery Tree every season to witness the color and light change, Leah Wilson

The seed of this transformative devotion to ritualistic process is to cultivate a profound sense of belonging. This is not a yearning to belong to a particular group or a culture, but to a place. It is to nurture a sense of home, a spiritual home experienced as a familiarity and lack of self consciousness, rather than a quest for a material, physical home.

The systems admittedly do take on attributes of religious ritual. They are performed to facilitate establishing the conditions needed for the shell of the seed to burst and to fall away, allowing the tender seedling to simultaneously reach for the sky and send tendrils into the earth, growing a branching anchor drawing nourishment from its foundation. Isn’t that what religious rituals are fundamentally intended to do?

Roots After the Big Storm, Leah Wilson

Exposed Roots After a Big Storm, Leah Wilson

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