View Finder: Niamh O’Malley

It is a sacred place. A site visited by pilgrims and tourists, both reverentially hushed. But by the side of the dusty road there is inevitably a line of tables, each covered with the same objects: small figurines of the holy relic in a range of sizes, postcards, picture books. One has a basket filled with small, 2-inch plastic cameras: through the tiny viewfinder is an aerial view of the surrounding countryside. Looking up towards the sun with the machine over my eye, a button turns through a dozen hypercoloured, grainy images, clicking through a quick snapshot tour of the area’s highlights: seemingly deserted postcard views and panoramic shots that give away only a sense of scale, and possibly good weather depending on where I point the toy.

Giving the imitation shutter button a delicate half-push, I get the excited shudder of making the view settle on the black ‘V’ that separates one picture from the next. Half of a green valley can be seen on one side, on the other an abandoned port, the dark no-space sitting uneasily between them. Like thinking about your own blinking, its normally thoughtless and automatic process becoming slowed and intentional, it is unsettling and revealing. It is a boundary, the limitation of how we see what we see; but this image of the material of the picture slide itself is also another view, another location, another entity. It is this liminal space, its uncertain dominion and hazy substance that is explored in the work of Niamh O’Malley.

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Feedback: David Beattie, Karl Burke, Chris Fite-Wassilak

Karl Burke, Untitled, 2011 with Solid Air, David Beattie in collaboration with Anne Bradley, 2011

Walking on tarmac that stretches in all directions. A one-story box building in the distance, long shadows and a slight stick on the soles from the heat. This is the surface that we are used to walking on. The day before it was a field, damp and squishing beneath the feet, little pools pushing to the surface. Before that, it was wood panels, in an air-conditioned court hall now used for public display, each echoed step sounding like it was shyly trying to be as quiet as it could be.

But this is in another place. In a universe of infinite space, and the finite possibilities of life within that, it is more than likely this is several places. At once. An alternative you, the same, or perhaps slightly different on a distant planet very much like this one. A whole range of alternative selves scattered throughout the cosmos. Not exactly parallel realities, but close enough to empathise, to know the whole range of choices they might have made in their lives.

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