KEEPING IT REAL
The art of Tricky Walsh is strange, personal and singular. This work has a rich and variegated logic that has been refined over many years of experimentation, investigation and research. One of the most delicate structural complexities that underpins Tricky’s work is the blending of fact and fiction: Tricky takes real, complex ideas, deeply explored through meticulous research and feeds these notions and theories into their work. Tricky’s research is eclectic, but there’s long been a strong interest in the strange areas of physics and maths that bleed into the most wild and challenging notions of scientific investigation.
Or to put it crudely, Tricky is attracted to the weird, and it is in that sphere of queer and peculiar, that Tricky builds a world.
A concept like the Fourth Dimension may well sound like something gleaned from an episode of Doctor Who that aired in 1978 but it is factual, and dates, at its earliest conceiving, from 1754. It’s a real idea, generally accepted as part of how we understand our reality.
It is also a deeply strange idea. That there is another dimension, perhaps multiple other dimensions. That these dimensional spaces exist beyond our capability to experience, but that we can prove these spaces are there, at least in theory.
Truth is really weird, and it’s great starting to point for fiction and speculation.
Fiction, or art, or a delirious blending of the two allows an artist to take a real idea and expand on it, explore it, extrapolate outwards logically.
Tricky finds a complex idea and does things with it: it is expanded on, turned inside out, dissected, examined and given new clothes to wear.
This brings us to a space we shall call Flatland. Please be attentive, as there are two Flatlands we need to consider. The first Flatland is a book, written in 1884. Flatland describes a world that has only two dimensions, filled with living two dimensional inhabitants. It takes an idea and extrapolates from it. It takes a fact and gives us a world, and some philosophical puzzles to consider.
Over a century later we arrive in Tricky’s Flatland, which has two dimensional objects we know as paintings. Paintings are pretty flat. Tricky’s paintings are interesting here because they know they are flat and do not try to deceive us with that old trick of using a perspective, that looks to be three dimensional, but is no such thing – and keep that in mind, that perception can deceive you into thinking two dimensions are three.
There are sculptures as well, and they look – well they look three dimensional, and probably are, but they are also strongly suggesting, if you look at them from the correct angle, that they’re four dimensional objects. If we can have two dimensional objects that seem three dimensional, we can probably have three dimensional objects that look four dimensional.
It’s a bit confusing, but it’s really just a matter of perspective.
Flatland (the book) is at once a satire on society, an exploration of a concept and the introduction of a novel idea, which is how are we to understand something beyond all of our experience? In Flatland (the book) a Sphere turns up, and the Sphere has three dimensions. The Sphere can also talk, which is possibly more bizarre than it having three dimensions, but Flatland (the book) is a work of fiction, despite having a solid grounding in mathematical certainty.
In Flatland the art exhibition by Tricky Walsh, the notions described in Flatland (the book) are being ascribed through art to the notion of a Fourth Dimension. This is the method Tricky uses. The ideas are mixed, dissected, extrapolated on, and something else arrives.
Because perhaps, to speculate, this is not art.
What if what you see here in Flatland the art exhibition by Tricky Walsh is a set of four-dimensional objects that are observable in our three-dimensional world?
Do they look strange?
It depends on your perspective of course, but let’s run this line of logic right through and see where we end up, shall we?
If these objects were really four-dimensional ones – intruding into our perception of three-dimensional space, we would be unlikely to immediately recognise the objects as four-dimensional. We probably do what we always do, and we would attempt to understand these objects based on the knowledge we have, and the experience which we rely on to make sense of our world and existence.
Saying these objects were art works (which they are) would help us understand them.
Now, these art works probably are not actual four-dimensional objects, but they could very well be three dimensional representations.
Lines fold into themselves and vanish. There are segments that look awkward to our trained eyes. There’s something going on, and it isn’t random. It’s art though and we understand that art is meant to be weird.
That’s probably what’s going on when you look at Flatland the art exhibition.
There is another question here, or notion at play, or gap to be filled, and that would be why would Tricky do this: because no matter what experimental reading of this art (it’s probably art) we make, and there are a number of potential ways to view Flatland (it is possible to simply enjoy the obsessive intricacy which is found throughout the work and be overwhelmed by the details and the sheer meticulousness of the creation displayed here) there is still the question of why this work exists, what it might be saying.
If we are thinking of this art as a kind of science fiction, which is very possible, then it is useful to consider the idea that all science fiction is not about the future, but about the moment in which it was created, and if we are to think about now, and wonder about a series of terrifying and unexpected changes that are happening the world over, it is not unreasonable to think of one reality intruding and disturbing another, and what that unstable intrusion means for every living thing.
Do we continue to look at things and try to fit them into our own experience, or do we really look, and see the terrible miracle unfolding before us?
There is no answer. It’s just a question of perspective.
Andrew Harper, Hobart, 2019