John Latham, Erth, 1971
Curated by Hana Noorali & Lynton Talbot
First shown as part of Inn7o - Art and Economics at The Hayward Gallery in 1971, John Latham’s Erth utilised recently available images of our planet from space, pages from Encyclopaedia Britannica and a haunting voice-over, recounting the age of the universe, positioning human existence in relation to what Latham called ‘the whole event’.
Over twenty-five minutes, prolonged periods of deep black are interrupted with the voice, while occasional glimpses of our planet come into view. Evoking a journey through the cosmos and through time itself, the film culminates with a montage of every page of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. With a page per frame, the dizzying display of all human knowledge is terse by comparison and a sense of our temporal place in the universe is lamented.
The film holds true to Latham’s theory of ‘flat-time’ whereby time and space are not expanding from a singular origin but condensed into a non-linear event structure. The film collapses space and time, both physically and cinematically into a direct encounter.
The opportunity to present this film at Breese Little as a singular event allows us to further invoke the reflexive nature of the work. Through both the films content and its staging, the subject is revealed through the physicality of its own production, its durational and self-referential nature revealing an ontological perspective.