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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Moving and disintegrating images

7:5 (seven films by five artists)
Two Rooms
19 August - 9 September 2009

This group show (now over) downstairs at Two Rooms featured short films - sometimes loops - by Clinton Watkins, Gregory Bennett, Judy Darragh, Dorota Mytych and Alex Monteith.

Monteith had the advantage of having the video room out the back all to herself, showing a work previously seen at St. Paul St of different Moto-X riders making tracks up and down a huge dune at Ahipara - as if it were a massive sheet of finely grained drawing paper. With Monteith the whining crackling staccato of the engines was a big component of the pleasure (and humour) she provided, along with three quarter angle photography that could almost be aerial.

Gregory Bennett’s animated films often seem to illustrate some futuristic theme where solitary individuals no longer exist, humans being only capable of moving in unison - like ants that share a common mind. His recent work is now more concerned with simple geometry than it was previously when it was more narrative-based. Densely packed rings of humanoids move their limbs and torsos in co-ordinated unison, opening and closing, like an awakening bud. Bennett is really a choreographer of digital dance, a designer of beautiful (but simple) communal actions.

Clinton Watkins’ slow moving loops of a galloping horse and swinging light shade hypnotically caressed your retinas, while teasing you into searching for the minute jump where each cycle restarted. The gentle pulse from the rocking light, and the flickering space between flailing equine limbs and distant background, held your interest - keeping you from leaving.

Judy Darragh’s video of 365 daily ‘Rorschach tests’ of symmetrically patterned, coloured ink drawings, were a little like Julia Morison’s erotic ink folds (seen in the second most recent Auckland Triennial) but less vaginal and more like butterflies. They had a horizontal, not vertical, format, and were made after giving birth to a child. Darragh’s metaphor of a butterfly thus seemed appropriate. The light of these delicately transparent drawings became particularly intense when enlarged and converted to video, causing the chromatic saturation of the ink to seem to fade. It was a clever idea to put them in a slowly morphing sequence.

The theme of metamorphosis was also apparent in Polish artist Dorota Mytych’s spectacular videos of images made of tea leaves. These, after a stationary period, then became scattered as if blown by a large fan. Though an obvious reference to the transience of existence, her fleeting portraits and figures also alluded to the fortunes of the planet, grim augurs for our species’ future.


Giovanni Tiso said...

Huh, so sorry to have missed this. Any word on whether it will travel. Say, to Wellington? :-)

John Hurrell said...

I don't think it is likely, but you can always ask Two Rooms.