It is at this point, where the dimensions move, when the book becomes a two-dimensional line and the line a book, that the work of Noor Nuyten begins.
But where does the book end? Is there enough water at the limits of imagination to grow a tree, a palm perhaps?
Noor Nuyten (1986) graduated from the HISK, Ghent in 2011. Recently she showed her work in group exhibitions at the Ithuba Arts Gallery in Johannesburg, Kunsthalle Münster and NEST in The Hague.
* Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a novel written in 1880 by Edwin A. Abbott.
The work of Noor Nuyten has a strong artistic relationship with the tradition of conceptual art from the 1970s. Often, the starting point for her installations is formed by research on constructed systems such as language, time and measurements. Unlike with purely conceptual art though, the formal aesthetics are of great importance in Nuyten’s work: they are subtle but yet possess a strong visual expressiveness.
The titles are an important part of the work too: with some works, the ideal conceptual form exists exclusively in the title, for instance for 'A 0°C Globe'. This is a globe made out of ice, which starts melting once it is exhibited above freezing point. The original form of the globe, as it exists below 0°C, is present purely in the title: the viewer can only imagine it.
The same concept applies to 'A 50°C Horizon’, in which two glass thermometers are placed horizontally next to each other. When the temperature reaches 50°C, the mercury in the thermometers rises all the way to the tops. The red lines connect and form a continuous line: the horizon from the title. This potential form exists only in theory, for the work will probably never actually be exhibited at 50°C. Just as 'A 0°C Globe’, the work is about a momentum existing in the imagination of the viewer. When combined, the works form an anti-symbiosis: while the first work requires a low temperature, the other one needs a high one. Together they shall never meet the potential that lies in their respective titles.
Just like 'A 0°C Globe’, which has to be refilled and frozen on a daily base, ‘Measuring Space’ is a cyclical one-day artwork. It consists of a measuring tape, held aloft by a helium-filled balloon. Over the course of the day, the helium slowly escapes from the balloon, causing the measuring tape to gradually sink to the floor. The work connects time and centimetres, two abstract systems we frequently use without really paying attention to their implications. In a playful manner, Nuytens work creates a new focus on these systems and rules. However hard we try organizing the chaotic world, there are always things over which we lack control.
'Leap Second' is a work which plays with the fact that a second is sometimes added to Coordinated Universal Time to compensate a mysterious irregularity in the rotation of the earth. Another example, 'Two Meters’, was inspired by Ken Alders' book Measure of All Things about the original prototype of the meter, the blueprint for all of our measuring instruments. The work consists of two measuring tapes of exactly one meter, cut into pieces and placed in piles. Although the two stacks represent exactly the same unit, they differ in height because the tapes are made of different materials.
Nuyten’s work deals also with the impact that constructed systems have on our social behaviour. An example of a work in which the notion of time plays a major role is ‘Let’s Meet at 3 O'Clock’. It consists of wristwatches that are manipulated, so that they run faster than the standard time. At first sight it is impossible to determine what exactly is wrong with the watches, although something is definitely off. Only after a while you start noticing that the minutes expire faster on the watch, an alienating experience. When two or more people wear these watches, they form a kind of secret alliance: they share a private time-lapse from which others are excluded. This allows them to meet at a certain moment in time, for example the 3 o’clock from the title, while it is not possible for others to find out when this moment takes place in general time. Because of the omnipresence of cell phones, the watch lost its main function of measuring time and merely exists as a status symbol. With ‘Lets Meet at 3 O'Clock’, Nuyten plays with this loss of function while proposing a suggestion for a new use.
The works from Noor Nuyten’s oeuvre have in common that a rational experience meets an imagined potential. They have a multi-layered but open character and possess their very own poetics of appearance.
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