By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
“Don’t talk unless you can’t improve the silence”
Before anything, the seemingly fleeting and unconnected images of Mary Helena Clark’s Figure Minus Fact (2020) speak of a great convergence. It’s a convergence of dialectical knowledge, through inherent contingency of images from the apparatus of life, which opens with the mechanism of a bell as a great conveyor for beginning. Clarke moves between the microscopic, or the abstract, with the syntax of the outside / inside, the womb and birth as a metaphor, and the evidence of life and fleetingness from the images of different still lifes, which project their presence on the outside, before submitting us to an exploration of our ways of seeing. The night sky and the possibilities of exploration through darkness.
This contingency which leads to a great convergence (inside/outside, figure/fact) begins from questioning our own very methods of seeing, from the microscopic and the entomological to the landscape and its subversion. We’re populated with images of the world around us, the quotidian, the tactile, the engravings of an existence which marks our personal experience through the slipping of light in our retinas. The figure minus the fact, is then, not presented in a way of subtracting, but to individualize the components arranged in our perception to present an understanding of a world that deals with a great array of experiences, but also of visual metaphors that deal with the mere existence of this apparatus of life through the possibility of letting the same images speak. Thus, we’re confronted with a black screen with the subtitle “[silence]” in a moment, as a way to pause the experience of viewing and reflecting on the experience of what isn’t being said.
Figure Minus Fact‘s images could be seen as reductive of a universe where birth is sublimated, but this great metaphor of life is projected through a unique perspective of the beginning. Through the words of Quentin Melliassoux: “If we look through the aperture which we have opened up onto the absolute, what we see there is a rather menacing power–something insensible, and capable of destroying both things and worlds, of bringing forth monstrous absurdities, yet also of never doing anything, of realizing every dream, but also every nightmare.”* Helena Clark’s images invite us to realize the possibilities of an image that is able to realize every dream, and open ourselves up onto the absolute.
*Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (2006)