We are all aware of the fragmentary nature of our experiences. Every moment of our waking lives we are assailed by sights, sounds and sensations that we try to process into a coherent image of the present. The memory also provides a constant stream of remembered events that also include memories of situations that we have only read or heard about or seen as images. Added to this, the imagination provides an endless series of sensations that are anticipations of the future. Thus our brains are simultaneously handling concepts of the ‘here’, provided by our immediate surroundings, the ‘there’, of places and events we have experienced or received information about, and the ‘elsewhere’, that we imagine or anticipate.
Explanations in theoretical physics that have developed since Einstein have provided a vocabulary and a diagrammatic way of considering the nature of our experience, by expressing each moment as an ‘Event’ in space/time. From each event a cone of light widens into the future and another into the past. The ‘elsewhere’ is all that lies outside these cones and cannot be experienced at, or influenced by the ‘Event’.
A similar concept was symbolically portrayed in the classical world by the Janus figure. With two faces, the Janus looks to past and future, presiding over beginnings, gateways and doorways. So we can envisage the stream of humanity passing through the gateway of the present from the past into the future.
The project, Here, There and the Elsewhere invited participants to bring their memories, thoughts and imagination to the understanding of space and time. It was originated at Newport Museum and Art Gallery in South Wales, where it included some works related to the local environment and was accompanied by talks and workshops exploring the themes and investigating ways of seeing.
The 2014 Here, There and the Elsewhere tour expanded the project to create new work for each of the five venues. It involved collaboration with long term residents and primary school children in the production of video works inspired by their local environments. Opportunities for participation were increased through gallery talks and practical workshops for schools. By becoming involved with the project, local people came to value the role of their memories and thoughts in the appreciation of the unique visual characteristics of their own environments whilst gaining shared perspectives in space and time with other places in the eastern counties of England.