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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Clinton Watkins
Two Rooms
14 August – 13 September 2008

Clinton Watkins is one of those artists whose interest in one methodology has fine-tuned him for another. He is a very fine video-maker with the sensibility of a painter.

Of the two videos here, one is a ten minute shot of the sea: watching the changes on the horizon brought about by rolling fog (like circular brushmarks smeared so the structural contours are blurred); the other is a much shorter loop of a container ship crossing the screen. Its moving image is divided horizontally, so it looks like an Elsworth Kelly, early Brice Marden or Don Driver’s seventies Relief Series of projecting panels.

Not only is this last work like a minimalist painting, but it is also like the unfolding of a poem, the way the blocklike letters on the bow gradually reveal their sequence within the vessel’s name. The gliding horizontal drift is mesmerizing - like a puck moving in slo/mo across an air hockey table - as is the soothing electronic music Watkins makes to accompany his images.

The simple ideas that he uses are very effective meditations on the nature of passing time and the appeal of watching motion. Watkins has made a number of ‘ship videos’, each one with its own mood, the result of the boat shape, colour, boat name, and weather conditions. It’s wonderful work, full of action that is incredibly calming and nuanced. A visual and aural treat.

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