4-D Expedition

Expedition to the Fourth Dimension Through the Space Inside a Cube (2014) included pencil drawings, mind drawings, timber drawings and an event over the 8 days of the University of Brighton MA Fine Art Show 2014.

The expedition into the  fourth dimension started with a simple drawing.  I was fascinated by the fact that a dot on a piece of paper is a 1-D  object on a 2-D plane, while the same dot inside a drawn cube was the same 1-D object but in a 3-D space.  I loved the fact that the eye could read this as 3-D space.  Further, when contemplating this space, I experienced a very strong inner reaction, akin to the type of feeling that I experience in meditation.  I started out on a drawing journey.

Some of the pencil drawings have been scanned from sketchbooks and published in a small, artist’s book.

The 2-D drawings provided a profound experience of cube space. This was followed up the drawing of a 2m x 2m x 2m timber drawing of a cube. This allowed 3-D cube space to be experienced.

I resisted making a 3-D cube. Experiencing the 3rd dimension through the second dimension kept me happy for a long time. One day I woke up and realized that in the same way, maybe I could experience the fourth dimension through 3-D space.

The timber drawn 3-D cube allowed the physical experience of 3-D space. It was taken to different locations where various exercises (meditation, dance, tai chi etc.) were undertaken to explore the space.

The best moments in 3-D cube space came when the cube was out on location. I particularly enjoyed the space in places where the cube was situated in large, open spaces . For example, on top of Ditchling Beacon or next to the sea at Seaford.

The timber cube drawing then came to rest in Grand Parade, University of Brighton.   This was where the expedition to the fourth dimension commenced. The event lasted 19 days (8 days preparation, 3 days test expedition (assessment) and 8 days expedition proper during the MA Fine Art 2014 show).

During the 19 days of this event, real time updates from the expedition were provided as a blog. These blog entries have been compiled in an ebook.

The climax of the event was the drawing of a mind cube between the artist and participants. As the artist drew this cube in the intimate gap between viewer and artist, the experience of that 3-D space was described.

Questions and Answers with the Artist

Isn’t it unusual for an artist to talk about the work with the viewer?

Judged by the normal conventions of the gallery I would agree that it is.  However, the media that I have been trying to work with in this project is my own experience of the space inside a cube.  I have tried various methods of sharing this in the gallery.  By it’s nature, experience is not something that can easily be detached from my being.  So I’ve found that being in the gallery talking about my experience is actually the best way of presenting the work.  So it’s not about the artist standing next to the viewer explaining the work as they look at it together.  The work is partially inside the artist and therefore the artist’s presence is necessary in order to open the possibility of the work being activated inside the viewer.

What would you hope people would get from this work?

Over the course of the 8 days of the show I must have talked to about 200 people in total.    I have no expectation of what people got from the work.  Some people had quite dramatic reactions and said that it was a life changing experience.  One woman cried.  Three other people said that they didn’t like it, questioning whether it is even art.  I’m really happy with all these reactions.  If an artist stimulates any feeling in the viewer I think that this alone is an element of success in the work.  All that said, I would only continue doing this work if some people got something positive out of it.  But so far that seems to be the case.  The most rewarding part of people’s reaction so far has been a number of them telling me several days or weeks later that they saw a cube and  they recalled the experience they had with me during the performance.  If I’m working with experience as a media, the experience doesn’t only take place at the specific time of the performance.  I love the idea that something is activated in the viewer which continues in the future.  Of course, unless someone tells me, I don’t know that this happened.  But I guess that’s what I would like to think is happening as a result of people experiencing this work.

What did you learn during the expedition?

I ended up talking about infinity a lot during the work.  In the end, this almost became a synonym for the fourth dimension.  This is because, when I was experiencing thoughts and feelings of infinity (which I often did inside the cube space), it was as if I was experiencing something beyond the most obvious three dimensions of the cube.  Whatever that was, I’m comfortable labelling it the fourth dimension.

I think that, for me, the whole project was a reflection of me coming to terms with my place in infinite space and my projection into the fourth dimension on the basis of that understanding.  Somehow the cube became a portal or a viewer that allowed me to see and experience something very big by reducing the aperture to a manageable size.  Ironically by reducing the view to see less I was able to see more.

I think perhaps the new place I find myself today is a feeling of being that bit more connected to the amazing human race.  Knowing that I’m a human being, and part of something bigger than me, is a good place to be.