John Latham

John Latham Time based roller 1972

The rollers, or blind paintings, made between 1963-67, were an attempt by the artist to physically embody time in painting.  “Latham adopted the roller format because it enabled him to represent time as a passing effect and time as a state which does not change, to encapsulate the relationship between the present moment and a whole event (a life or a universe): if the rectangle of canvas represents a whole event, then the narrow strip of canvas exposed along the roller represents the present moment. When the canvas is rolled up, the whole event is still there but hidden from view.”
(John A. Walker, ‘John Latham, The Incidental Person’, Middlesex University Press, 1994)

In 1972 Latham made the Time-Base Roller (now in the Tate Collection), three lengths of canvas along a 6m long cylinder. This time he included a numbered spectrum along the horizontal axis of the Roller, with a ‘least event’ represented at Band 1 on the left hand edge, and the universe as event at Band 36 on the right. Between these two extremes, the spectrum allows for the understanding of all cosmological, geological or spiritual phenomena, all physical, emotional or psychological states within the same system.

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