Review: Machines to Crystallize Time at Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds

Machines to Crystallize Time is a new body of work by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace created uniquely f

Machines to Crystallize Time is a new body of work by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace created uniquely for Smiths Row. Pictured is curator Natalie Pace. - Credit: Archant

After first visiting the new exhibition by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace at Smiths Row, I encouraged a good friend to go and have a look.

Machines to Crystallize Time is a new body of work by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace created uniquely f

Machines to Crystallize Time is a new body of work by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace created uniquely for Smiths Row. - Credit: Archant

In one sense, I think I owe them an apology.

Because it’s safe to say that Machines to Crystallize Time is not really about just looking; it’s about immersion, engagement – a physical and mental exploration of space and time where self and Other are vital components of the work.

Starting from a conversation about attempts to depict the past, the exhibition is a recognition that a still, passively perceived image cannot hope to convey the unfolding experience of film or navigable installation.

Mahony’s temporary installations (descendents of earlier works The Trouble with Time, 2013, and Parameters, 2014, which also play with the distinction between sculptural object and immersive environment) feed the visitor – perhaps I should say participant – through a series of carefully delineated spaces.

Machines to Crystallize Time is a new body of work by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace created uniquely f

Machines to Crystallize Time is a new body of work by CJ Mahony and Georgie Grace created uniquely for Smiths Row. - Credit: Archant


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In response to Mahonys built lines, Grace’s projections flicker out of the gloom – lighting up the maze-like Intervals and gallery-goers alike. The atmospheric films contain shapes and images from Mahony’s now non-existent works, meaning that images of the past are flowing over the surfaces of the present (yourself included) and at the same time becoming memories themselves.

As sociologist and philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato said in his essay Machines to Crystallize Time, from which the exhibition takes its title, “perception is always already memory.” Adding, “there is nothing save for the flows of images that encounter one another, collide, reflect, compose and decompose one another.”

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Indeed, there’s a good argument that I shouldn’t yet be writing a review. There’s a genuine sense that it will take further visits, where my memories of my first movements through the structure, will add a new depth and dimension to the work.

Perhaps all I can say for now is, don’t look, but definitely do go and experience this exhibition before time runs out. The exhibition runs until March 14.

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