Aether, a new film work by Martin Healy which continues the artist’s exploration of utopian ideology as both material entity and imaginary projection. In this instance, Healy’s work explores the belief in the progressive potential of science and technology that characterised the beginning of the 20th century and makes reference to Paul Scheerbart’s ‘The Perpetual Motion Machine – The Story of an Invention’ (1910). The diary is a written record of Scheerbart’s quest to build a perpetual motion machine and chronicles the author’s efforts to produce a machine he imagined would offer the world access to free energy and as a consequence have profound implications for society. Aether ruminates on the relationship between scientific truth (our attempts to explain the materiality of the world) and aesthetic form (the structures we build to do so) at a time when both these fields of inquiry existed in an ethereal and momentary unison.
Lone characters often define Healy’s films; in this case an un-named narrator, wandering through a tidal landscape, sets the tone and rhythm of the film work. During his journey, the narrator makes associations between the original search for the aether, the composition of matter and the fundamental drive to understand the natural phenomena that affect human existence. In its analysis of the relationships between the natural world and man-made artefacts, Healy’s film is a pensive meditation on the multiple conflicts and consequences of the human desire to harness the physical world.