While the scene captures a single, quasi-photographic moment, the light conditions of the work cover a whole year: the orbit of the sun has been programmed so that the light of the scene accurately cycles through day and night as they vary throughout the four seasons. The temporality of Dust Storm (Dalhart, Texas) is therefore realistic in terms of our conventions of measuring time, in seconds, minutes, and hours. It also unfolds in real time in machine terms, since the dust storm and the light conditions are based on continuously calculated data. The events in the scene–changing light and rolling dust cloud–occur as the machine processes them. As in other works, Gerrard subtly references the effect of environmental pollution. The storms in the Dust Bowl were a result of a recurring drought combined with the effects of poor agricultural practices and industrialization.
In another landscape portrait, the diptych Animated Scene (Oil Field) (below), Gerrard networks two images of oil pumps so that they perform identical and simultaneous movements on two screens. Each image features a single, central pump flanked by two more pumps in the distance. All the pumps face east, toward the sun, and run endlessly and identically.
Credit: Courtesy of John Gerrard
Gerrard’s works fuse media on yet another level, since they also have a strong sculptural component: the framed screen that holds the images can be turned on a central pivot point, so the viewer can look around and behind the depicted subject in a 360° pan. Through the use of gaming technology, Gerrard makes his landscapes “navigable” in real time, while still maintaining the framing of the scene. And Gerrard’s works, like Condon’s, include cinematic elements as well. The movements of characters, objects, and natural elements maintain a subtle balance between stillness and motion. Gerrard refers to the image world he creates as a “postcinematic slipping space between the image and the object.”