Quickness

Single channel HD Video 2014

It was Italo Calvino's essay Quickness that was the starting point for Mark Clare's video of the same title. In Calvino's essay, he refers to quickness as the ability of a writer to control the speed of a story in order to manipulate time: whether to delay it, increase it, or render it motionless. The speed of the story creates a 'relationship between physical speed and speed of mind' and is central in creating a rhythm within the written work to carry the reader forward. Calvino considers the technique of oral narration in popular tradition as one which 'follows functional criteria. It leaves out unnecessary details but stresses repetition'.

Similarly, Clare has a keen sense to economically strip his visual imagery to a few essential parts, using a framework of repetition to encourage the audience to think differently about 'accepted' belief systems in the public sphere. Calvino acknowledges that success can come from quick flashes of inspiration, but argues that 'a swift piece of reasoning is not necessarily better than a long pondered one and.... 'as a rule the finished product involves a patient search for the sentence in which every word is unalterable, the most effective marriage of sounds and concepts'. . In Clare's Quickness (2014) there is no place for embellishment, just a stark manipulation of time and the quickness of speed with which the visual image travels. Wearing a dark blue mechanic's suit, the protagonist of Clare's video fastidiously attempts- but repeatedly fails- to reach an unknown object (or exit route?). In a whited out space, bereft of any objects to contextualise his situation, the rhythm of Clare's editing of Quickness (2014) projects an uncomfortable, restless feeling of anxiety and frustration onto the subject and into the belly and the mind of the audience. Calvino states that as a prose writer he has 'always aimed at the image and the motion [of the mind] that arises naturally from the image, while still being aware that one cannot speak of a literary result until this stream of imagination has been turned into words'. Perhaps the reason why the text has struck such a chord with Clare is that Calvino has, unknowingly, described the artist's own process of imagination being turned into arresting and laconic visual imagery.

Dawn Willams - Curator Crawford Art Gallery