Thursday, February 15, 2018

Being in the Moment ... or not

I had some time in town today and decided to go to the NGV International to see the Triennial before it ends.  I have't been to a gallery in ages and was so happy to be back in one of my favourite galleries and to spend some time navigating my way around a very eclectic mix of work.  Such a great way to recharge my creative batteries and have some time to be immersed in other people's creativity.  Within the first five minutes of being in the space I noticed that almost everyone had their mobile phones out and were constantly taking photos of the art works and installations.  After a while I started to find this kind of annoying, having to be aware of whether I was about to 'photo bomb' someone's shot, having to navigate my way around all these keen photographers when all I wanted to do was to look at the art.  I started to watch how these people interacted with the space and the art in it - how much time they spent looking at the art and how much time they spent taking photos of it.  It almost felt like the actual viewing and experiencing of the art was somehow secondary to the documenting of it, presumably to experience later at home.  It struck me as a very strange way of being with art.  I noticed my own impulse to get my camera out to capture an image of a particularly striking room of red flowers and then I made a decision to leave my phone in my bag, particularly as I witnessed yet another couple of gallery visitors take selfies and pictures of each other posing in different parts of the room.  My phone stayed in my bag and instead I focussed on my experience of each piece of art, spending time really looking at each piece, thinking about which pieces appealed, which pieces didn't, what surprised me, what irritated me, how the different pieces interacted with each other in the different spaces.  Some works made me smile, others evoked curiosity and wonder, and they all caused me to think about my response to them, my experience of them, at the time when I was looking at them, right there and then in the moment.  Yes, the experience is transitory and fleeting and no, I can't take the art home with me.  But that's fine.  Life is full of fleeting moments of wonder and curiosity; experiences may seem ephemeral and transitory but they impact on how we are in the world.  I wonder if we are losing our ability to experience things, right here, right now, because we are too busy trying to capture the moment.  I think I'd rather let the moment be free.

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