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, February 22, 2009

As Simon Ingram’s show at Gow Langsford continues,

more and more works are being painted by his system of robots, replacing the original ‘manual application’ paintings on the walls, and resulting in an unexpected diversity of mark and spatial form types.

Both method sorts look good, but they do buy into the ‘retinality’ that Duchamp, for one, despised. Clearly they are meant to be about so much more, but the sense of shallowness is because (in my opinion) Ingram makes no intelligent use of the convention of titling. As ‘games with rules’ the details are not publicly elucidated as they could – and I believe should – be. A conceptual artist like Christopher Williams, for example, puts all particulars necessary for a viewer’s grasping of the making process behind his photographic images onto labels, and Ingram clearly needs to do likewise. Without that information lucidly presented alongside the paintings, they remain ‘eye candy’.

The trouble is that to do this Ingram has to reveal that not all his paintings (esp. the hand-painted ones) are programmatic. Indeed some are impulsive, where he got bored with a system, changed his mind, and switched to a new process. That is why I acerbically said in one of my comments that he was a ‘closet’ de Kooning. To quickly change course is like a gestural mark reflexly flipped by the arm into a new direction. It is emotional, bodily and unthinking.

In my comments I also said that Ingram fed drawings into the programme. He has quite reasonably pointed out to me that is a mistake and very misleading. In fact, the image above (from the invite) shows part of the on-going process on the LCD screen after the ‘game’ rules have been set up in the programming of the robot. This blue-lined image however seems to be a red herring that muddys the conceptual waters behind Ingram’s methodology. Better, maybe, not to show it.

I have written this second post because this is an excellent, constantly evolving exhibition to visit, think and write about. I wanted to clarify my thoughts about the processes and end results here.

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