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.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sounds underwater

Sounds underwater
Stella Brennan South Pacific
Two Rooms, Auckland
13 March - 5 April 2008

Brennan’s South Pacific is a visually enticing short film that exploits imagery made not with a camera but with sound, deftly interweaving the technologies of radar, ultra sound and sonar. Against beautiful backdrops of rippling turquoise green and murky smudges of grey she provides a written account of the forties theatre of war in the Pacific, when ships, planes and submarines began to litter the sea floor. Underneath her images her text unravels, describing the growth of radio and radar networks, and flight paths dotted with landing strips – as well as the underwater dumping of weapons and trucks by the fleeing allied armies.

Hypnotic radar beeps provide the soundtrack to this intriguing film, with Brennan’s printed text contributing a crucial element. While she is not a consummate ‘underwater’ image maker like say Joyce Campbell, Brennan is good at making compelling fields of colour that slowly reveal significant detail – albeit bleary.

The gist of the film relies on the text, yet oddly the words appear one at a time, to be read in sequence and not as cohesive phrasal clusters that can be instantly scanned. The best of this rhythmically deposited language sets up a strange counter-tempo to the sonar, but occasionally its regularity distracts, thwarting the poetry of the ambiguous underwater imagery. A peculiar occurrence in an otherwise absorbing project.

1 comment:

ada reader said...

Hi John,
thanks for your thoughts about the work.