Most everyone is familiar with the legend of how 17th century English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered — or at the very least, formulated a theory about the existence of — gravity. He was sitting under an apple tree, an apple fell and conked him on the head, and he started thinking about what it was that caused the apple to fall to the ground in the first place.
What he came up with was the Theory of Universal Gravitation in which gravity was a predictable force that acted on all matter in the universe, and which was directly proportional to the mass of the objects (ie the bigger they were, the stronger the attraction between them) and inversely proportional to the square of their distance (ie the further apart they were, the weaker the attraction between them).
In the early 20th century, Albert Einstein proposed an alternative explanation for gravity as part of his General Theory of Relativity. Rather than a specific force, he described gravity as distortion in the shape of space-time that caused objects to move toward each other along spherical paths or curves in space-time.
More recent theories propose that gravity is a function of particles or waves that cause objects to be attracted to each other. None of these particles (called gravitons) or waves have ever been observed though, so for now it seems we are still somewhat in the dark.
Which brings us to Gravite. It’s an exhibition of work by Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader (1942-75) that is currently on display at Neutral Ground Artist-Run Centre. Organized by Dazibao, it consist of four short film loops where Ader strives, but inevitably fails, to defy gravity and ends up falling. You could look at the loops from a strictly scientific perspective, I suppose, but they also hold deep metaphorical meaning related to the idea of human triumph and tragedy, risk and failure.
Also included in the show are Ader’s works I’m Too Sad To Tell You (pictured) and Night Fall. The show runs at Neutral Ground until April 17.