Never Happened Again is an ongoing series of single-channel video projection works shot with a Bolex Reflex 16mm film camera in Iceland and Los Angeles. Méndez’s interests in issues of perception expand into the perception of light by the apparatus— in this case, her 54-year old hand-cranked Bolex—and that of the film stock. Through this mechanism ‘chance’ is introduced into the making of the image, resulting in radiant chroma floods intensified by the irregular flickering of the frames, set against a subject matter of a mundane nature—a grass field in a park, an urban Eucalyptus tree, a field of cotton flowers where sheep grace, or a glacier. “The work involves multiplication through the recombination of derivatives, that, in being combined, deoriginate that from which they derive. What leads one to video here, however, is an idea less of flow than of intensities, which is to say of transmission rather than embodiment.” Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime.
Méndez’s interest in the nature of matter—in cycles and systems, specifically the forces and cross-rhythmic tensions that make natural phenomena emerge—stem from her growing up in two seemingly entropic environments, México City and the Mexican jungle, where she would follow her father in pursuit of Mayan archaeology. Common to both environments is hypercomplexity, multiplicity, and constant change. Méndez’s move to Los Angeles and her expeditions to geologically young Iceland have furthered this impetus.
Méndez’s work is driven by the concept of élan vital, developed by the French philosopher Henri Bergson, who described it as “the explosive internal force that life carries within itself,” which he claimed animates all being. Her At Any Given Moment series is further informed by the ideas of the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who said: “We are all transistors, in the literal sense. People always think they are in the world, but they never realize that they are the world.” As explained by cultural theorist Sanford Kwinter, what Stockhausen means is that there are no phenomena in the natural world that do not manifest themselves as vibratory or rhythmic phenomena. Those vibrations attack us; they modulate us and, in the end, become us.
Never Happened Again, Glaciers 2 was filmed at Monacobreen Glacier, in Svalbard Archipelago in the High Arctic.