Leslie Eastman: Chronology

Time is a tough concept to creatively tackle. Invisible, absolute and abstract, struggles to define time have long antagonised intellectuals and creatives alike. Leslie Eastman’s Chronology rises to the occasion in spectacular fashion, yoking ideas of time and space to express time as an abstract culmination of our own critical perceptions.
Eastman’s work is conceptually impeccable. Featuring just three works, the space is dominated by twin works For the Time Being #1 and For the Time Being #2; both large, stainless steel squares with identical dimensions. The twins are suspended in the middle of the space, rotating continuously in place as Eastman’s video piece Chronology plays silently in the background.  The two appear as a pair of futuristic cogs whose systematic movement function as a metronome, as if they are ‘keeping time’ of the space.  As this ‘time’ is effected by movement, Eastman draws focus to the value of space and perception in considering it.
Both twins are made up of linear, symmetrical geometric arrangements that decrease in scale as they approach the works’ centre. #1 is a two-dimensional sheet, with gauged-out lines that trace the work’s perimeter, meeting in the centre to create a mirror effect; #2 is made up of a number of smaller frames that are all detached from each other and staggered slightly to give a three-dimensional effect.
Eastman’s time is authoritative, but also fluid: shapes and movement are controlled and absolute, but the reflective material forces attention to our role as perceivers as we engage with the works. A challenge is posed to bounds of our critical sensibility through this interrogation of ways space, time and perception can exist in relation to each other.
The reflective material also makes gauging the rhythm of #2’s rotation all the more demanding. As it spins, boundaries of frames are reflected in and against its neighbours, making it difficult to discern distinct bounds between frames. Exactly how far the piece’s frames protrude is similarly confusing, creating the irrational fear that you’ll collide with it as you explore the space. It’s this very fear that is testament to Eastman’s successful manipulation of the perceptive process.
Whilst Eastman’s video piece is conceptually and stylistically relevant, it is much less arresting. We watch as symmetrical, concentric semi-circles are burnt into what appears to be steel, but from behind a screen. The physical presence of the twins draws sharper, more tangible focus to modes of dividing and perceiving space, confronting our position as perceivers in a much more resonant way. 
Essentially, Leslie Eastman’s work is smart. It’s incredibly refreshing to see creative work that doesn’t rely on emotional appeals to overdone themes, or cry postmodernism to hide behind nonsensical abstract-ness. Gigantically dense ideas are attacked in the simplest language possible, as Eastman reminds us that concepts this sticky cannot hope to exist without our engagement as critical, perceptive subjects.
It’s this perfect balance between readability and abstraction that makes Chronology so brilliant: Eastman includes you in his work and forces you to think, without coming across as pretentiously obtuse.
Leslie Eastman: ‘Chronology’ is appearing at Nellie Castan Gallery from June 28th –July 21st 2012
by Monica Karpinski
Check out Arts Mitten for more reviews and arts interviews

July 5th 2012
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