Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Swarms of little men

Gregory Bennett: Blacknoise
Vavasour Godkin, Auckland
27 March -26 April 2008

Blacknoise presents a dark sci-fi fantasy of a world dominated by thousands of digitally created, shavenheaded young males, all athletic, supple and eternally energetic, swarming over public spaces and all they come across - even floating in the ether itself. The handful of women who are shown are on their backs on beds in buildings. The work seems to have satirical intent.

The imagery though is not violent. The figures are often configured in flailing towerlike structures, practicing a form of gymnastics where forms open and shut like flowers. They exercise tirelessly. Only women sleep. The guys keep on moving.

You have to get up close to see these works. From a distance they seem to be like the holistic brush-marks of Mark Tobey. They could almost be maggots, all writhing in a field. Closer still you might think they are scrambling people from the mescaline visions of Henri Michaux. In fact they are like Lilliputian armies created by Pixar studios, stills made in anticipation of some big screened production, with test samples moving on LEDs.

Maybe Bennett should make such a film. The stills have a steely, Escher-like iciness, especially in the architectural drawings. Although incredibly detailed, these might become tiresome. Because all the figures are the same, the interest is in how the plethora of individuals is grouped, how Bennett clusters them. Real time movement however, would really enhance the motion already implied.

Bennet is no colourist for his harsh blacks, greys and reds make the images optically piercing. But as an unusual fantasy the content of his work is intriguing. Hopefully it will lead to something more ambitious.

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