Words That Move

In the darkness, Charles Sandison’s projected antonyms have unusual power

The door opens and light pours into the room. When it slams shut, projected, moving words appear on the walls and ceiling in the darkened room. Only the floor remains stable and keeps us upright. Words are everywhere and move with a strange, jerky motion. Simple singular words—dead, child, mother, female, old, food, father, threat—create a Kafkaesque environment.

As though a techie version of Ed Rusha and Lawrence Weiner, the projected words of “family unit,” 2005, collide and connect and try to form phrases then move apart again. Combinations stick––old female, child dead, father food––to create a floating semi-narrative. Threat, repeated three times, lingers and forms a cluster on the wall, ominously. With words moving like scurrying roaches, the feeling is dark, introspective and somewhat creepy.

Sandison, a computer whiz from an early age, considers himself a painter with words. An artist in his mid 30s, he is having his first solo exhibition in the U.S. at Yvon Lambert. Originally from Scotland, he now lives and works in Finland.

The remaining works, in the lighted gallery, are more autonomous, losing much of their impact, as they don’t cloak the viewer as the darkened space does. Clusters of moving words in “yes and no,” 2002 seem to be in a struggle and burst as if into fireworks in a lower corner. At one point, the “yes” words form a dense cluster, seemingly thwarting an invasion of the “no” words

A larger wall piece, “notes toward a sinking machine,” 2005, incorporates hand drawn static charcoal lines with projected moving words and symbols that are contained within or follow some of the drawn lines. There is also a hand-drawn rectangle that acts like a white hole soaking all the words that pass its boundary. With words––put, here, place, fixed, off and on—this piece seems to be about placement and proximity. Though elements are intriguing, it is difficult to reconcile the hand-drawn with the projected machine text.

Sandison deals in many antonyms, and in his large environment creates a dark mood that seeps in tandem with the compelling merger of words and movement. Like being inside of a living, thinking brain, the dark helps to transport. The use of projected text can have a big impact if one chooses his words carefully.