Dana Lok, One Second Per Second, Installation view, PAGE (NYC), 2020

DANA LOK

One Second Per Second

September 12 – November 1, 2020

This series of paintings explores the visual possibilities and paradoxes tucked inside the metaphor “time takes up space.” The works picture events and processes as visceral, extended structures. Moments are sliced thick. They stick flush against one another. If you pried them apart, you’d see the gunk that binds causes to their effects. The past heaves over the present, puts its weight on the present. A flashbulb illuminates “now,” makes it vivid. It casts the past in shadow. The arena that holds these processes has its own weather, humidity and light. Time performs on a hot stage or waits on a plate.

This past spring, normal points of reference for the pace of life evaporated, and time took on a strange character. It seemed to flow erratically. Days moved like mud, but months rushed by. Surely something was slowing down or speeding up. But to say that time flows gives it an imagined physicality that leads to all kinds of absurd questions about concrete properties that it does not have. If time flows, what does it flow through? Which direction is it going? And how fast?

Mistaking an abstract idea for a concrete thing with physical features is called reification, which is a logical fallacy. But at the same time, everyday thought and communication seem to work by grounding ideas in concrete metaphors, like “time is a substance”. These paintings take pleasure in this misplaced concreteness. They embrace reification and relish filling in all the gooey, contingent details that open up when an abstraction hardens into an imagined particular.