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Exhibition Essay
April 27, 2017

Curiosity About the Circadian

About the Author
Scott Schultheis

See the exhibition here
The piece previews the upcoming exhibition, Circadian Rhythm, at Park Towne Place.
My understanding of the concept of circadian rhythm is, frankly, pretty loose. Beyond the pseudoscientific suggestion of it referring to the behavior of an “inner clock” partially at the whim of just some of the most influential environmental factors, like: light; darkness; time; when and how we sleep; the stuff we ingest or imbibe that might disrupt that equilibrium – it remains a hazy kind-of sort-of concept for me. I mean, it becomes difficult to understand it as anything but an umbrella term of, well, at least a chunk of the experience of consciousness. And so I wander…
…Unlike the total impression of being conscious, of feeling grief, joy, longing, sympathy, guilt…feeling feelings that generate ideas about a self and its relationship to others…unlike this, the circadian seems to begin at the unconscious level, while manifesting itself consciously, or, er, bodily. We become aware of it only in its disruption, like jet lag. It seems like it is without language and more often than not, oblivious to it. It is responsive to signals, but not to the meaning of words. Therefore it seems like a primal, simmering mechanism. Which is how I suspect the artists’ work in the next exhibition Circadian Rhythm at Park Towne Place may function. Colleen McCubbin Stepanic, David Slovic, Leora Brecher, and Melanie Serkes – the four artists in the show – make use of incrementally additive processes. They often repurpose pieces of past work. Sometimes they make repetitive units of things with the intention of assembling them into a complexly layered object or image. How they know they have finished each work – that never ending question – won’t likely have a clear answer.
I return to the umbrella concept. When I look at the art works, will I experience any circadian disruptions? Will the intensely additive work exhaust or soothe? Will I be able to notice any of the pauses in the construction? The diversions from one interest to another? Will there be any sense of chronology at all, or will I have to construct a position out of my witness to many interlocking durations, tests, and time capsules?
Circadian rhythm is a suggestive idea that gets to the core of some of our ongoing sensory mysteries. The questions keep coming: Why are some people more energetic in the morning, while others become more focused and creative at night? These propensities sometimes don’t necessarily align with routine; someone who works a 9 – 5 job is not, by default, a morning person, and vice versa. What does our body know? What does it recognize? How does the repetition of a unit (of time, of form) generate a bodily condition? How adaptive and impressionable is our sense of alertness? What is it like to watch a person knitting a cloth whose purpose is undetermined for hours, for days, without ever doing it ourselves? I am excited to see where the connection with the observer is forged.
Circadian Rhythm will be having a public reception on Wednesday, May 17th, at the South Tower of Park Towne Place, from 6 – 8pm.  
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