The seeing of not seeing from Alison Jardine

by DRM

Critical Mass by Alison Jardine


What I see clearly I pass by.

What I see but do not see, I stand to witness.

My heart goes wandering, pulls my soul from its slumber, pesters memories to give up their hard, wary shell and stretch out in childlike glee.

All while I stand captive to what I see but do not see.

Then it appears.

Broadway unfolds in a stream of ink diluted with tears. Night sheds its scaly skin and slinks down to the end of the island.  Windows turn flat and blank. Rooflines lift up like sunflowers in a rainstorm. The air is mealy.  I see things that I don’t think anyone else can see. I see a woman holding a spoon above a bowl of sugar, cursing an old man. I see a boy crouched in the dark corridor, waiting for light to break through the kitchen window. I see two men laying still in bed.. I see me, me somewhere and everywhere, holding someone, listening to whispers, rushing into the room, banging on black glass.

This is not a memory. It is then. It is now. I have slipped into a fold in time; the blur — greens, yellows, blues, whites — opening in soft focus and enfolding the grey angles of another place, of no time.

How can I tell you what a magical moment this is? Have you felt it?

If you do, you know. You know how in the instant that I recognize what I am seeing, it vanishes.  The blur is a stand of trees. The tiny cityscape is a shadow cast by a stray cloud.

I feel empty.  Don’t you?

Then one day I encounter this painting by Alison Jardine and catch my breath.

She has the gift of seeing what is there but not there.

For one moment, she lets me lose myself in the seeing of not seeing.

It is a moment to be thankful for.


For the past year or so I’ve been following the work of the artist Alison Jardine on Twitter.  It has been an exciting and surprising experience.

During that time, Alison has been integrating a naturalistic vision of the world with an emerging understanding and mastery of the impact of digitization on images and perception.  The leitmotif she’s seized on is the pixel — the root element for all digital images.  Rather than compromise the entire image by manipulating the underlying pixelization, Alison has created a series of works that raise one or a cluster of pixels to visual prominence.  The effect is arresting and consistently natural.

The exercise would be no more than that, an interesting exercise in techno-modern style, if the underlying foundation of the work were not so strong.  The works play with juxtaposition without being overly precious, cute or meaningful.  There is beauty in capturing the blur that precedes perception, and Jardine’s recent work is squarely placed in that exciting moment of discovery.

You can see her PixelNation series here on her web site.