The Difficulty of Crossing a Field
In connection with this subject of “mysterious disappearance” – of which every memory is stored withabundant example – it is pertinent to note the belief of Dr. Hem, of Leipzig…This distinguished scientist hasattracted some attention, “particularly,” says one writer, “among the followers of Hegel, and mathematicians who hold to the actual existence of a so called non-Euclidian space – that is to say, of space which has moredimensions than length, breadth and thickness – space in which it would be possible to tie a knot in anendless cord and to turn a rubber ball inside out without ‘ a solution of its continuity’, in other words, without breaking or cracking it.”Dr. Hem believes that in the visible world there are void places – vacua and something more – holes, as it were, through which animate and inanimate objects may fall into the invisible world and be seen or heard nomore. The theory is something like this: Space is pervaded by luminiferous ether, which is a material thing –as much a substance as air or water, though almost infinitely more attenuated. All force, all forms of energy must be propagated in this; every process must take place in it which takes place at all. But let us suppose that cavities exist in this otherwise universal medium, as caverns [within] the earth, or cells in a Swiss cheese… Ambrose Gwinnett BierceFrom “Science to the Front” found within Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories
The above passage, written by late 19
century satirist and fiction author Ambrose Bierce,is composed as a rational, yet fictional argument for a series of preceding ghost tales. Thisconcluding segment exists as a speculative foil for the emotional resonance of supernaturaldisappearances. The passage opens up two roads for the reader - one being a suspension of belief in the supernatural, the other a suspension of disbelief in the scientific. Both capturethe idea that there must be a parallel reasoned, albeit inadequate, argument for the realmof the invisible.In the work of Amy Beecher and Susan Bricker, we are presented with visual criteria establishing both presence and absence in the material and in the immaterial. In both of the artists’ work, there is a manipulation of paint, yet there exists an elusive andsupernatural component to the work that suggests a tenuous relationship with thetraditional or fundamentalist modes of abstraction and representation.In Susan Bricker’s studio, the artist made mention of her appreciation of the work of Henri Mattise, which makes for a compelling alignment in practical similarities with regardto the production of space within the picture plane. Mattise’s use of the brush stroke, whichoccasionally would act as a representative object, reinforced the tactility of the paint andcreated a rift in the suspension of illusion within the picture. In Bricker’s case paint itself constitutes forms, allowing for infinite potential for the accelerated self-referential quality of the paint. Mattise and the Post-Impressionists played an important part (along with photo-mechanical reproduction) in liberating painting from the relatively restricting confines of representing reality at a one to one ratio. By opening up paintings potential, the technicalaspects of painting, brushstrokes, color, content, became less subservient to the lens of reality and more capable of approximating the supernatural.