Slow Arc within a Cube (I, VI, VII, XI, XIII, XIV), Patterns of Absence, Limit of Everything and Paradigm Vex (Slender)

This group of related works will be displayed in the series of barrel vaults at the base of the battlement walls, where the MICAS Beacons are located. These dark cells, with their arched ceilings, are all of similar size, some interconnected, some discrete. Installed in a reverse chronological order, this is the largest display of these related light works by Shawcross to date, and they reveal the experimental approach the artist takes to exploring concepts such as time, space, and human perception.

The earliest work here dates from 2008 and encapsulates the artist’s desire to harness aspects of science and translate them into a sculptural expression. In the case of the Slow Arc inside a Cube, the impetus comes from a discovery of a quotation by the late scientist Dorothy Hodgkin, who pioneered the process of crystal radiography. She compared the task of deciphering chromatographic grids to trying to work out the structure of a tree from only its shadow. All the Slow Arc works utilise the sharp radiant shadow of a moving halogen light nested inside a cage. The works over the years increase in their complexity and subtlety. However, although this earliest version is by far the crudest, it is also the most primal and visceral. Mounted on an articulated arm, the light is driven from one diagonal corner of the cage to the other. The result of this is that the surfaces of the room, normally stable, are plunged into flux, the ceiling descending as the floor sinks and the walls recede and fall in. This series culminates in Slow Arc inside a Cube XIV, which contains two lights and a triple cage. These later works, while slower and subtler, still have the same intention to undermine our stability and preconceptions, in order to challenge the perceived completeness of our perception envelopes by obliterating the illusion of the present. All of the displayed works develop this theme of exploring light and pattern.

As well as these Slow Arcs, another one of these spaces houses Patterns of Absence with a mirrored front panel and back panel spelling the letter ‘W’ in a nod to the Beacons on the battlements. The back-lit disks are each peppered with a complex layering of holes and colours that interact and react as they slowly counter rotate over each other. As each viewer gazes upon the shifting surface, strange patterns seem to appear and vanish, new thoughts are triggered and memories recollected, all while neural pathways and connections are forged for the first time.

One of the only spaces with a window contains a continuation of Shawcross’ Paradigm series, extrapolated into further expansions, lit by the spinning lights of his Limit of Everything overhead.

Note: The vaulted spaces where this series of works is displayed have been designated for artist-in-residency spaces in the next phase of the MICAS site development.


© Malta International Contemporary Art Space 2024

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