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, August 10, 2009

Give it a whirl

Darren Glass billboards
Te Tuhi
25 July – 27 September 2009

Darren Glass is a New Zealand photographer widely admired for the inventiveness of the abstract or distorted images that he creates with his pinhole sculptures. Usually these photos are small to large – sometimes very long – but never spectacularly big. This is because film and sheets of light-sensitive paper are crucial components of his method – creating an element of intimacy between him and his viewers.

Te Tuhi’s billboard project has been different. It has allowed him to enlarge three of his images digitally onto the plastic fabric used by advertisers – so they can be appreciated by his audience from the other side of the street. Here he has taken three images made with a ‘Flying Disc’ camera that he throws like a Frisbee.

His enlarged images are richly coloured, abstract whorls punctuated by radiating streaks or vertical squiggles. The three hoardings demonstrate the range of image he can create with this technique: two were made in winter; the other was in summer when the sun – the light source which draws the swirling lines onto the spinning horizontal negative – was high in the sky.

Glass’s right-hand image seems to have traces of cloud-forms on its blue fuzzy ball and they coincidentally make it look like the planet earth as viewed from outer space. The middle square has concentric rings of gorgeous turquoise traversed by wispy slashing verticals, while the one on the left has a saturated green fog caused by light seepage. It changes to deep ultramarine within a couple of flicking austere spirals, and then to black on its far right.

It is odd seeing Glass’s images blown up like this, one gets so used to the smaller scale of his photographic paper, but the public arena works. They become more celebratory, exulting in the glories of light-drawn calligraphy, and hopefully exciting more people. The perfect artist for such a venture.

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