For the past twenty years, Texas-based artist Michael Henderson has been attempting to describe time while simultaneously admitting to not being able to define it. Expressing this dilemma, Henderson’s paintings and drawings included—in endless variations, juxtapositions, and serial repetitions—such recurring motifs as clocks, clouds, and globes, combined with clearly time-consuming games like crossword puzzles and Scrabble. These earlier works tended to demonstrate, according to art critic Charles Dee Mitchell, “the arbitrary yet still remorseless nature of time.”
Not surprisingly, in the early 1990s Henderson added the time-based medium of video to his artistic investigation. “Henderson makes us more observant, more aware of the passing of time,” observed Mitchell then. Henderson’s work creates a state of mind in the viewer, Mitchell continued, that “expresses itself physically in a sort of restlessness, an uncomfortable feeling of anticipation.” This condition is even more fully developed in Henderson’s recent video installations, which frustrate the viewer’s attempt to create a (chrono)logical sequence of events.
Loop Negative One is from a series of video installations that includes Loops, (Negative) Loops, and Non (Loops). All four works in the series combine animated three-dimensional text with digital video and digitally manipulated, hand-drawn images. The text is put into motion along paths that create simple forms like cylinders, spheres, and cones, which is then superimposed on video that Henderson shoots using models in his studio or on location. Shooting on Long Island, New York, the waves in Loop Negative One were shot on a stormy day at Jones Beach, while the man passing in and out of a doorway was filmed during a residency at the Islip Art Museum. Loop Negative One, like the other loops in the series, has no beginning or end—describing a continuous circle, it refers to the subjective experience of time and the paradox at the intersection of the past, present, and future.
In a recent artist’s statement, Henderson wrote:
Time, or the way we think about it, has a lot to do with things going around in circles: the clock, the spinning earth, the repetition in the calendar. We really don’t think about time without thinking of the past and the future, things that have happened, things that we expect. In Loop Negative One I am describing the present—the thing we are always simultaneously entering and leaving, the time we are never in and always in.
Using simple editing techniques, Henderson transforms time into space, an empty room, which we seem to inhabit, but not really. . . . Or do we?
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art