George Carlin and St. Augustine have something astute to say about time and the absurdly commanding power it wields over our thoughts and actions. Their pithy remarks are woven into Robin Cameron's dizzyingly dense video “Near Future, Recent Past," the centerpiece of her brain-tickling show at Moskowitz Bayse.
The nine-minute, split-screen piece is perfectly calibrated to its subject: time's elusiveness, the notion — voiced by Carlin and adopted as the show's title — that there is "No Now." The video moves quickly, a little too quickly to fully grasp. Staggered, quick-cut images evoke time's passage and substance: calendar pages and clock towers, hummingbirds in slow motion, cloud formations sped up.
The piece feels like an instructional film on steroids or speed. At a relentless clip, the narrator introduces ideas and questions about memory, regret, time as a magic trick and as a necessity, time as something intuited but also externally imposed. Meanwhile, jellyfish float, bubbles rise, Picasso and Klee turn up, fireworks explode, drums beat and cymbals sound.
As if suddenly, nine minutes have passed. The pulse is racing, but the mind has settled with certitude on defining temporal experience as simultaneous rather than linear.
In the show's other works, the Canadian-born, New York-based artist uses indicators of time as both form and material. A series of silk cyanotypes bear silhouettes of dots, dashes and arcs that spell out the length of each panel's exposure: "10:19," for instance, and "18:57." The abstracted numbers reiterate, with playful self-referentiality, the abstractness of time.
A continuously looping slide show — called "When Is It?" — positions seven projectors so their images land on the wall in a circle. The found snapshots of nature, travel and more click and change at regular intervals, traveling around the circle like the second hand of a clock. Time ticks, time spins on its wheel. Time slips by.
Cameron's work is a savvy reminder that how we conceptualize time (or anything, for that matter) determines how we visualize it, which ultimately determines how we experience it.
Moskowitz Bayse, 743 N. La Brea Ave., L.A. Through April 21; closed Sundays and Mondays. (323) 790-4882, www.moskowitzbayse.com
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April 9: This review has been updated to delete a Vimeo link to “No Now” that is no longer accessible.