February, 2013 Archives

A Bigger Splash

Here is an absence that has no spectators. The disappearance – the dunk, the splash, o pulo – grabs hold of us, then lets go, freeing our gaze to travel the space around. And it is just that – space. There are vacated surfaces: the chair, the patio area, the diving board. They confirm that there is no one around. But are we underappreciating what’s going on here? Perhaps we should be seeing this instead: here is the chair where the diver sat, here is the patio where he stood or walked, and here is the diving board that held him a second ago – each absence nailing a moment in time, now past. Thank God for Pop Art. Hockney’s painting isn’t a sentimental “remembrance of the things past.” It isn’t about memory or personal identity; we shouldn’t be trying to dig up symbolism in the vacated chair, or read into the contrast between pristine absences in the background and the violent splash. The disappearance nails a moment in time – but it is just that – a disappearance, a dive, and a happy one. Moritz Schlick thought that the meaning of life lies in the act of play, and this dive is a play. This raises a question: is showing play in an absence pop-art enough?

David Hockney. A Bigger Splash. 1967. Acrylic on canvas.

Pop & Splash