Extract from ‘White’ – B. Catling 1998

Acts that cast no shadow are rare, and their attainment cannot be bluntly achieved. In one of its discourses on Dharma, The Diamond Sutra offers an enigmatic process of stealth to obtain wisdom and therefore merit. An indirect but absolute poetic that could be seen as a cornerstone in conceptual Art practice.

Tell me Suputi how would he illuminate it, so as not to illuminate it, therefore it is said he would illuminate as stars, as fault in vision, a Lamp, a mock show, dewdrops or a bubble, a dream, a lightning flash, a cloud.

So should one view all that which is conditioned.

The pilgrims journey is stained by necessity and compromise, the pasture of paradise or bliss out of nirvana seem a long way up the track. Life if not able to be lived in perfection needs a mummery that does, a performance that whistles close to the curved wall of fulfilment. Works of Art that smuggle the core of white into the mundane day to day drabness.

Matthew Luck Galpin launches the cold white object out of his hands, across a raised sheet of polished steel. A spinning top cast in ice, the acrid water of the Dead sea; a choking saturation of salt and sulphur locked by a temperature unknown to Israel. The rotating alkaline blur dances across the metal surface before the mesmerised audience. It spins for a long time, longer than their expectation.

The top has been made very carefully, the artist has practised his skill through many experiments and pervious models. He has examined the spinning top made of iron and wood in the Pitt Rivers Museum, that is claimed to turn for twenty four hours. He has collected his materials diligently and weighed their properties.

When it finally stops there is a change of breath in the audience, not a sigh, but a letting go, a stepping back into the real world with its known time.
In the warmth of the day the shine of rust has already bloomed, orange and blue, unfurling in the pool where the top once hovered.The metal beginning to let go, to dissolve its sternness under the collapsed form’s insistent static action.

In another work Galpin has taken the sound of light.

This white noise received and recorded in Antarctica is the aural interpretation of the eternal bombardment of physical light on the magnetosphere. A constant ethereal bird song. The artist has harnessed this to a visual swirl pinned at a crossroads. A video camera being set on a fast turntable at the intersection of empty institutional corridors.

There are of course other modes and processes of the sublime, which must of course be the momentary filter, the glimpse on the stairway, near the balcony.
But I think Galpin’s constructed moments have an appeal that is direct, the reassurance, the certainty of spirit, optimistically expressed in matter and device.

And so it is said he would illuminate,
so as not to illuminate.

Extract from ‘White’, a lecture by Brian Catling
Ruskin College, University of Oxford 1998