Harley Ives

Harley Ives: 'Immaterial Object 1'


Pigment print, framed

90 x 100cm


These compositions are created through a complex process that involves animation, intervention, transfer, recording, rerecording, rerecording (…), transfer and layering – steps that fold together controllable and uncontrollable elements. This meticulousness mirrors the 1950s and 60s flower arrangement books collected by Ives. Books created with middle-class housewives in mind, providing instruction on how to beautify their homes. There are different ways to perceive these books: with appreciation for their kitsch appeal; as guides and inspiration for expressing creativity; as manuals for decorating the cage that was the home for so many women. Perspectives on the value of the ornamental are held in this work alongside the layered symbolism of arranged of flowers.

An example is how these moving still-lifes call to mind the use of flowers as a memento mori – a reminder of the inevitability of death. Perhaps intuiting that contemporary viewers do not need another opportunity to reflect on the fragility of life, Ives plays with this concept by designing these pieces to run as seamless loops, ad infinitum. How does this element of time and the suggestion of forever dance on screen with forms that symbolise the briefness of material existence? What possibilities may the digital and immaterial offer and what beauty can be seen in the decay?


Excerpt from Immaterial Ornament essay by Alex Moulis, 2020

View full essay here: https://www.chalkhorse.com.au/exhibitions/immaterial-ornament