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 24, 2008

Robot Daubers on Film

Simon Ingram - Drawing for an autopoetical painting: Monochrome in C (2005) with Monochrome in K (2008)
A Centre for Art, Level 3, Rm 5 Achilles House
21 August - 6 September 2008

Here we have videos of two Simon Ingram paintings being made by his programmed Lego robot devices. One is part of a piece of sculpture now, shown on the installed box monitor on the floor. The show's title is floor sculpture's name - note, not the name of the actual painting that was made.

The other work, Painting Assemblage No.6 is from last year’s Adam Art Gallery group show Four Times Painting. You can see a similar version on YouTube with a sumptuous soundtrack from the Dead C. In the ACFA version that's on a monitor fixed to the wall, the movement of the machine’s descending paint-loaded platform is slow and hauntingly beautiful. Sometimes the horizontal bars have a blurred ghosting effect, as if the movement trips, stops, reverses and then readvances to progress. It looks like a cleaning box on the side of a huge building and has a futuristic Sci/Fi feel. Nice cinema.

The earlier work is more a piece of sculpture, with the monitor placed on the floor and a shiny black monochrome placed opposite the screen, tilting away at the top to lean against a wall. If you stand over the monitor and look down onto the canvas you can see the moving video. The details are hard to decipher and the suggestion is that the shiny canvas is the actual support that the programmed robot is working on. If so the work is reflexive, cleverly documenting its own manufacture.

I really like the graininess of the later work. The movement is sensual and hypnotic, and the dark brown of the filmed linen locks well into the ACFA environs and decor. One small gripe: a handout on the two paintings (and the notion of ‘autopoietical’) would have been useful.

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