Nick Hackworth

Jeremy Blake/Chemical Sundown, Dot

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Inspired by the optical effects of LA’s polluted atmosphere, Chemical Sundown is a looped, 12 minute-long digital animation displayed, in its manifestation at Dot, as a video projection.

The piece veers from abstraction to figuration, but throughout conjures a sense of distortion that waxes and wanes. When the distortion is weak, you can make out the form of a city scene that stretches out before you, but on its strengthening you are robbed of your surety and plunged once again into a world of abstracted colour and form.

It begins with a vague and unstable horizon that stretches across a field of colour. Semi-circular shapes appear in pairs. The forms gently blur, lose their shape and their hues flow into strips that undulate in a slow and steady rhythm until they fade, and before you appear grids of brightly coloured rectangles, a spectrum of urban lights, set against a deep blue background. But the fidelity of the rectangles fails too, all the colours streak and bleed into each other until they become one flat field and the semicircular forms emerge once again.

The accompanying ambient soundtrack builds the trippy, hallucinogenic feeling of journeying through a warped vision. The sense of unreality culminates in an unexpected moment when a fragment of film footage suddenly appears. It’s a clip from Casino Royale of a beautifully dressed woman dancing on a bed in a pink room as feathers float about her — a reminder of the solipsistic lives that are played out beneath the hazy atmosphere.

In calling the work a “time-based painting”, Blake goes some way to describing a medium that is somewhere between traditional video art and traditional painting and he exploits this artistic no-man’s land to the full, creating an impressionistic journey through what are ultimately dirty landscapes of the mind.

Until 2 July. Dot, 4th Floor, 41/45 Beak Street, London, W1, Monday to Friday, 1-6pm (020 7494 0434)