AboutâIn some remote corner of the universe, flickering in the light of the countless solar systems into which it had been poured, there was once a planet on which clever animals invented cognition. It was the most arrogant and most mendacious minute in the âhistory of the world'; but a minute was all it was. After nature had drawn just a few more breaths the planet froze and the clever animals had to die. Someone could invent a fable like this and yet they would still not have given a satisfactory illustration of just how pitiful, how insubstantial and transitory, how purposeless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature; there were eternities during which it did not exist; and when it has disappeared again, nothing will have happened... There is nothing in nature so despicable and mean that would not immediately swell up like a balloon from just one little puff of that force of cognition....' âIt is odd that the intellect can produce this effect, since it is nothing other than an aid supplied to the most unfortunate, most delicate and most transient of beings so as to detain them for a minute within existence....'
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. 1873
'There was never a King like Solomon,
Not since the World began;
But Solomon talked to a butterfly
As a man would talk to a man.'
Rudyard Kipling, 1919
The Lonely Now
At first glance, Paul Chaney's work may seem disconnected from the reality that most of us live in. Pieces like âFall 07'' and âOne For Sorrow' may seem grotesque or even idealistic. On a closer look we realize the subject matter of the work stems from Chaney's unique relationship with it. Paul Chaney is one that is fortunate enough to know a place in a way that few others in contemporary society ever get a chance to. His lifestyle has led him to an intimate knowledge of the various different species he shares his place with. For Chaney, the increasingly fashionable âoff-grid' lifestyle is much less about being âgreen' than it is his admittedly futile quest to return to the garden of coexistence. This mythical time in history when humans and other species lived in harmony has led Chaney to choose the way he lives.
The Lonely Now is a window into Chaney's world where you are much more likely to have a shrew as your neighbour than a human, where the dead flies on the window sill are treated like old friends, and where the plight of a drowned magpie is understood. It is a world that openly admits that human interference is not always beneficial for our fellow species.
Looking at this mostly small and detailed work is like looking at a landscape painting with a magnifying glass. Rather than seeing Nature simply for its aesthetic value, we are looking at its often harsh reality. In The Lonely Now, Chaney shares with us his intimate knowledge of his place. The â24 Hour F I E L D C L U B Museum' and âVole No Pulse' are examples of work that focus on Chaney's experiences and discoveries from working on the inside of the bucolic.
We find ourselves in a place where humans are no longer isolated in a strange anthropocentric world where few other species are appreciated. Through his work we find a kind of physicality that faces us with the impact that we have on our surroundings one where death is sometimes a result.
The Lonely Now consists of some of the stories of Paul Chaney's attempt at coexistence, and asks us to question why we regard some neighbours so differently than others. Most of us will find ourselves far from our fellow species in a very lonely and entirely human world.