Sam Taylor-Woods video piece, of what looks be a Vanitas painting from the 20th century, starts off with a bowl of fruit. The dim lighting, dusty earthy colours, and the composition from afar, you’d bet was a painting by some Dutch master.
It takes a few moments to see the slight movement of the fruit, as they slowly start to decay. Still life turned to motion.
How long does it take a master to paint a still life composition? It is long enough that they would encounter such changes in the fruit of fish which they paint?
It’s not often that we see the effects of time on perishables, the mold slowly multiplying. It’s an interesting view on biology, microbes in action.
Looking at other works by Sam Taylor- Wood, time is definitely an influence on her, that a the use of time based media. The technology used, such a fine camera captures time, impossible until the last decade.
The placement of the plastic pen, is there as a contradiction, or perhaps a constant, or a statement that plastic will never decompose.
Other artist who uses the traditional ideas of vanitas paintings to demonstrate the passing of time, is Jason Salavon. Instead of film, he uses digital animation. In his Still Life (Vanitas) 2009, he evolves a human skull into animals skulls, using 3D rendered technology.
I think Sam Taylor- Wood wants us the think about the passing of time, unseen. There’s magic in the still of life, so many things we cannot see, tiny worlds of bacteria, reforming the present, changing it, into the past.