If you could turn back time, if you could find a way…OK, before you hold me responsible for conjuring an image of Cher singing (mea culpa), tell me one thing…Do you think you could live with a beautiful sunrise permanently happening inside your own house ? How about if YOU could make the geology of a landscape appear just by moving in front of it? Could your mind comprehend the multiple strata built by 4.6 billion years of Earth works, if they were shown to you as a small compressed sculpture? And just before you go, what about crystallizing altar wine, ie: the blood of Christ?
All these questions are dealt with by Adam Belt and his new body of work exhibited at Quint Gallery in San Diego until July 6th.
All these questions deal with Light, Space, Time and the Divine.
Quite an ambitious mix if you think of it yet Adam Belt keeps on pushing the boundaries of the Light and Space art movement started in the 1960’s by Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Larry Bell – a holy trinity of artists, if there was only one.
To Light and Space, Adam Belt adds Time as if it was not of the essence but rather a concept he can control, freeze or even produce. And wouldn’t we all wish we could be such alchemists!
As for the Divine, it is a quintessential part of Adam’s artistic practice: making the art I will now share with you is Adam’s religious vocation…and it makes me lose my religion in the most aesthetic and sublime ways!
Seeing the Light is a gift we often take for granted. It is out there all around us yet please, let’s make sure we say “no to habituation”, that Robert Irwin’s art philosophy turned personal visual mantra. We’ve all seen images of Notre-Dame de Paris burning recently, something as unthinkable as a life without sunsets or light itself. So just to make sure, Adam Belt has found a way to bottle similar beauties and deliver them to us using the technology that sometimes precludes us from seeing that very light.
A 20 minute-looping video projection of the shadow of the Earth rising in the east turns visual meditation in the most divine color crescendo.
Echo (2009) is a rose window made of television and its static TV, after the South Rose Window from St. Denis Cathedral, France.
Light from the northern part of the sky brought to you with intact mysterious effect and sense of wonder: no projection here, simply Adam Belt’s engineering, bringing you light and making you look at it like the divine wonder it truly is.
There is something very telling in Adam Belt’s title for his show: Almost There. This can be interpreted in a physical or a psychological way: where are you? where do you want to go? how far have you come? are you travelling without moving?
His landscapes both painted and sculpted with glass micro-beads are activated by the viewers movements, revealing topographical and geological details as light reflects off or gets muted by the very act of your viewing. From afar, these landscapes look abstract and grey; from up close and personal, you are almost there, unravelling real places as if you painted them with your eyes, your step forward and a tilt of your head.
If you dare to come too close for comfort, your eyes will actually create a space that simultaneously exists and doesn’t exist.
Crevasse (2019) retraces the shape of the Nansen Ice Shelf Crevasse in Antartica in the most startling optical illusion. Come close and you might feel like Saint Thomas who insisted upon seeing and feeling Jesus’ wounds. Seeing is believing so Crevasse (2019) may tell you more than you want to know about the state of our planet.
Where do you spend yours? If you live in the US, you spend (and waste!) a fair amount of it in your car: in San Diego, it is most likely on the I-805 or the I-5 freeways.
Adam Belt used crushed rocks from that I-5 highway mixed with resin to cap his reconstitution of a time capsule with strata spanning 4.6 billion years. Yes, he sourced all kind of rocks (200,000 year-old basalt, 17 million-year old obsidian, 219 million year-old petrified wood, up to some Campo del Cielo meteorite dated 4.6 billion year-old), crushed them, aggregated them with resin and piled them up to create a pocket timeline of the history of the world. If only this 5.75 x 7.25 x 5.50 inch sculpture could talk!
Losing My Religion and Art Salvation
Transubstantiation is not a word fitting for every day conversations, at least not in my agnostic world. Yet studying art history comes with obligatory rites which include much devotion to the Renaissance. That mouthful of a word – transubstantiation – is associated with the Eucharist or Holy Communion in which wafer and wine are Christ’s body and blood.
Once more, Adam Belt’s artistic interpretation fits in the concept of time with the religious sublime as he crystallized altar wine within a matrix made of communion wafers and plaster.
Challenge your eyes and brain, explore the possibilities, I often think I go to museums like people go to church. You can do it too: you are Almost There.
Read more about Light and Space artists in past blogs on Reinventingrid:
© 2019 Ingrid Westlake
All pictures by Ingrid Westlake, unless otherwise stated.