Title: Not Waving, Drowning

Artist: Nancy Paterson   Exhibition year: 2005

Not Waving But Drowning "Do the hands say "hello" or wave "goodbye"? The conflicting meanings disclose a fundamental crack at the base of Western culture regarding how it constructs meaning. Is "hello" really the opposite of "goodbye," or does "hello" have "goodbye" already folded into it? Paterson has devoted some of her practice to analyzing the culture/nature binary.2 She contends that there is nothing natural about this binary; it is purely a means of ejecting nature or its derivatives so that they lie on the "naturalizing" side of any binary. However, since it is easy enough to see the possible confusion between these two categories, what interests keep the naturalized term in its place? Paterson's intervention makes clear that the power relationship between nature and culture is as important as the division of the field of meaning. She offers advice about the meaning of her work in the title. The potential for confusion over not waving but drowning is a warning that none of us can trust the signs. Somewhere in a binary lurks a menace that we don't want to acknowledge. In this blooming field, the siting of very unlike materials and processes together can spur each of us into checking our various orientations. However traditional a suggestion, each of us needs to live oriented by the certainty of death, rather than by slippery binary descriptions.
"Resistant Nature and My Self" by TILA KELLMAN (The Tree Museum Catalogue 2005)

Nancy Paterson is a leader in the field of interactive installations, video installations, immersive environments and internet-interactive mediaworks.