In the Presence of Darkness is the culmination of three major projects undertaken by Laura M R Harrison whilst studying for an MA in Contemporary Fine Art at the University of Cumbria. During this time Laura has explored the concept of psychological ‘lostness’ – broadly defined as a vexation of spirit, the feeling of being unsure of what one is meant to be doing in life. The exhibition included:
We See as We Wish (shown on this page)
The neutral white-noise of nature accompanies a dynamic environment in which two distinct states of being vie for the personal attention of the viewer.
It Matters to No-one Where We Are
Stepping out into the unknown to examine physical and psychological points of transition.
Do we witness hands grasping, or obscuring, something within the darkness; the fruitlessness of wishing for an indefinable future
In Search of Odin’s Left Eye
As we plumb the ancient expanse of lore and myth from the darkness we are confronted by a vision, or perhaps a mirage of wisdom
‘The cloak of [darkness] facilitates…the dormant art of getting lost…of wandering off…without a clear sense of direction but likely discovering new words in the process.’
Each of the projects was filmed in darkness at a different body of water within rural North Cumbria. The combination of the darkness of night with the constant flux of water, in these locations, creates a timeless and engulfing quality, as a rare physical space, that can mirror the psychological state of lostness. Laura sought to enter and observe this space in order to pursue a means of understanding lostness in a way that avoids negative, or difficult cultural, associations.
Despite the tranquility and relative silence, darkness and water can seem threatening, and even malign at times, due to physically impeding one’s sense and negotiation of surroundings. Yet it is simple to relate darkness and water to an open, calm, state of deep thought and contemplation, something one can transpose to psychological lostness. It is at the convergence of the forces, darkness and light, sound and silence, that a window opens into an inner world of possibility and potential.
The projects are presented as a combination of film and sound which serve as the canvas upon which the substance of Laura’s work, darkness and water, are laid out. The work is exhibited to construct a series of immersive experiences, each of which takes root within a particular strand of research into the philosophical means of conceptualising lostness.
The hope for the exhibition was to convey to the audience the essence of Laura’s direct experience of lostness.