In this work, as in many other of his neon and text pieces, Etchells uses language to instigate a kind of private, interior performance or playful thought-experiment in the viewer. In this case the full phrase of the work ‘From More or Less Everything to Pretty Much Nothing’ invites us into a process of mental accumulation and immediate subtraction, invoking an experience of lost status, demotion and decay. As with much of Etchells’ work, From More or Less is porous to the context in which it is installed, changing its apparent meaning and emphasis in a process of give and take with different locations.
About Tim Etchells’ neon and LED works
Etchells’ neon and LED pieces often draw on his broader fascinations as an artist, writer and performance maker, exploring contradictory aspects of language – the speed, clarity and vividness with which it communicates narrative, image and ideas, and at the same time its amazing propensity to create a rich field of uncertainty and ambiguity.
Through simple phrases spelt out in neon, LED and other media, Etchells strives to create miniature narratives, moments of confusion, awkwardness, reflection and intimacy in public and gallery settings. Encountering the neon sign works, in the streets of a city or in the space of a white cube gallery, the viewer becomes implicated in a situation that’s not fully revealed, or a linguistic formulation that generates confusion or ambiguity. As often in Etchells’ work, in the neons the missing parts of the picture are as important as the elements that are present. Invoking a story, or projecting an idea out-of-context, the work invites us in, but into what exactly we can’t be sure.