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.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Waiting 13 hours for 3 minutes

Hurry up please it’s time,
Juliette Blightman
Michael Lett
, Auckland.
15 November - 22 December 2007

The theme of time is a comparatively recent theme to emerge in contemporary art circles, mainly through the interest in the subject in the work of On Kawara, Andy Warhol, Agnes Denes, Robert Smithson and others, and the rise of neo conceptualism. Juliette Blightman is a London-based film-maker whose projects often elongate or rupture the temporal experience. This exhibition at Michael Lett is unusual in that the entire show is in the front space by the window and door and can be viewed from the street. No work at all is in the beautifully proportioned, ‘proper’ gallery leading to Michael’s office.

The specific content of this site-specific film screening is daylight saving and the international time zones. We are thirteen hours ahead of the English, who of course use Greenwich Mean Time. Blightman’s film at midnight, which is 1 am, although it is midnight again is screened at Lett’s every thirteen hours. It is a 3 minute loop and when it is restarted it just continues from where the loop had stopped previously. It will screen 69 times.

Living in Hamilton, and only making brief visits to Auckland, I have not been able to see this film at the time of writing. But I hope to. The image is apparently of Big Ben at night, filmed from the South Bank of the Thames on the last Sat night/Sun morning of October this year, when Daylight Saving is stopped and normal GMT restarted. At 10 pm Sat night the hands are moved forward one hour and the suddenly turned off lights come on again at midnight.

Blightman’s schedule of screenings – with thirteen hours between them - therefore varies from day to day. When it is printed out on a sheet with New Zealand screening (and equivalent English) times positioned side by side, it has a strange symmetry. In a sense the sheet of times concurrent both sides of the world becomes a sort of artwork in itself with lots of patterns. We look backwards and forwards, from left to right, and also vertically, from bottom to top etc. to see repeated hours of projection in twenty-four hour time.

The sheet demonstrates parallels without inversions, for though day is balanced by night, winter is not balanced by summer. That seasonal information resulting from the earth’s tilt is not delectable, only the daily axial movement of the earth in relation to the sun, and humankind’s attempts to get maximum usage out of it. Perfect subject-matter for innovative artists.

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