Art Culture

Review: Air Diving- Matthew Rimmer

Peace.  Tranquillity.  Relief.  Three feelings that consumed me on the 19th of February watching Matthew Rimmer’s latest exhibition ‘Air Diving’.  If I felt a sense of ease enjoying the virtual reality of the surreal natural world, I had to question why I also felt overwhelmed with suspense and intimidation. 

As I submerged myself into Rimmer’s story of water, I was mesmerised by the fast-running waterfall that filled my screen.  I listened to it lash down on to a still body of water.  A clear cube of brown dirty water sat on the waves of a darkened sea body.  The stark contrast of the dirtied water against the darkening body of blue changed the tone of the piece. I started to feel anxious about what was beneath the sea turning the colour of water in the cube.

I was experiencing the sublime, in awe of the unpredictable nature of the sea, lapping waves ready to submerge any threat to its beauty.  I feared the weapon was floating precariously above, unsinkable, but able to leak into the sea of blue.  My interest into the differing waters was broken, suddenly, by the sound of a camera shot and my screen showed what at first looked like a crime scene; a person waist deep in water, rope, a back turned to the camera, a lady crouched taking photos.  The white flash that invited this next scene gave the impression of an investigation.

A man holding the cube of dirty water on top of the lake was interrupted by a cleaning of the lens and the sound of wiping plastic dry with a cloth, he was cleaning the clear cube. 

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Yet another shift in focus as the camera panned round the trees and mossy ground which glistened in the sunlight as the sound of rushing waves became birds tweeting.  

We are given a few moments of peace, entertained by the processes of the natural environment.

The man places the cube back onto the body of water and this time the dirtied water has completely filled the cube.  As it drifts off towards the waterfall the daylight darkens as it becomes evening and the water gradually empties into the lake. 

The cube of dirty water initially, evoked the damage already caused to the ocean and the intensity of the blue lake suggested a warning: the pollution could worsen.  The clear plastic cube that floated was perhaps the most powerful message: we can see the dirty water; we can see the threat it poses … and yet mankind persists to interfere.  

The interruption of cleaning the cube and taking a walk amongst the nature alluded to the disturbance mankind is having on the natural world. The constant shift of focus was distracting in the video, and I felt this reflected the constant disruptions to the water cycle.  This idea was furthered once the man placed the cube, full of the muddied water, back into the body of blue.  Rimmer is arguably criticising humans for the long-lasting damage to our natural world.  He suggests we are the dirty water, corrupting the clean water.  The transparent material of the cube recalls the wide-spread knowledge of the effects of climate change: we can see them and yet we continue.  I perceived Rimmer’s use of the drifting, emptying cube, submerged by the fast and heavy waterfall, as a warning.  Nature will fight back, there is only so much we can take from the elements before they retaliate.

[Image Description: Transparent box with blue gravel and small green algae. A sculpture is placed in the middle: it has a blue central trunk with lime-green pendant branches]

Imeage Credits Agata Paulina Młyńczak