Welcome to “Entropy”.
How silly, really, of us to be gather here tonight in an almost overly joyous celebration of that one magical thing that will eventually kill us all, entropy.
Before I pretend to know anything about entropy as a scientific concept, I apologise in advance to the three astrophysicists in attendance for any scientific misgivings on my part. If you’d like some hard science on entropy, I invite you to talk to the attending astrophysicists. If you walk up to them and ask, “Black holes, shaken or stirred”, I assure you, you will have made a new friend and you will be all the more wise for it.
The best I can offer you, though, is something of an instinctive pseudo-science along with what I have taken from the artworks on exhibition. Let me start with the pseudo-science.
Perhaps the most tangible truth behind the concept of entropy, is that it is known to us as the second law of thermodynamics. How sweet is the surety of science!
It tells us that entropy is the degradation of matter and energy to an ultimate state of inert uniformity, It is ironic, if you will, that this state of uniformity to which all things return, is often described as “chaos”. Leave it to our structure seeking minds to think up a concept such as entropy to measure the unmeasurable. How blatantly beautiful of us to come to the knowledge, despite the respite of time, that the cigarette’s smoke can never return from whence it came, that the universe moves towards a state of dissipation, a state of increasing disorder.
This, then, is the basic law of the universe, the constant increase of entropy. As for the basic law of life; we struggle against entropy to become ever more highly structured, to pin ourselves down more clearly. We are by nature, warring creatures, we war with each other, we war with ourselves and our shadows. The great American novelist, Kurt Vonnegut, rightly calls man an “infantry animal”. The art we have come to admire tonight is indeed that of “infantry animals”.
If I could take the liberty of editor’s choice, I would single out Kristel Fourie’s photographs entitled “In Step” and “Women in Military”. In “Women in Military” the camera captures the gaze of a single woman in a marching crowd. Her eyes speak for themselves.
As you enter the chapel, you will see what Reece Swanepoel calls “Some die, some want to die and some just won’t die”. His relational aesthetics piece deconstructs skeletal remains and reminds us, with our physical bodies, of the fate we all share. We complete the artwork, as it were.
Then there’s Koos van der Watt’s transcendental high art that weaves and unweaves the unrelenting power of our many-levelled minds—what a way to challenge entropy.
Riëtte Drevin astonishingly captures the process of entropy increasing through recording moments of ink and water mixing, the eternity of an irrevocable step.
All these artworks embody, in one way or another, the human cognisance of the way that entropy moves in our universe as it spirits us away.
This is entropy.