Richard Hamilton • Train Sit I On III • 1954

Trainsition IIII 1954 by Richard Hamilton 1922-2011Here is a painting by Richard Hamilton from the early 1950s.

Hamilton is an artist who was associated with the ICA, the Independent Group, and the Pop Art movement of the 1960s.

This painting is one of of a series of pictures that explore the problem of trying to represent speed, understood as a movement through space, on a 2D surface…something that Turner had been trying to do 100 years earlier…

In general, artists have tried to resolve the inherent contradiction between vision and speed, as experienced through the acceleration of everyday life, by representing the fragmentary perception of the world at speed…cubism and expressionism are both possible answers to this problem.

Note. There is not a single, correct, answer to this…nor is there a single, unified and realistic, representation of this experience.

We know from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and from Quantum Mechanics, that science cannot measure two things at once – we cannot know speed and position for example. The same is true of our own perceptions.

The odd thing is that, in these circumstances, the only real and enduring kind of experience is our own emotional memory of it…that is the least objectively reliable, or verifyable, measure of anything. But, it’s the only thing we have.

You can find out more about this painting on Tate’s website.

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