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On perspective and motion (part 2) 2006, Daniel Crooks On perspective and motion (part 2) 2006, Daniel Crooks
IN A MEDIA CULTURE SATURATED WITH VISUAL SORCERY, IT IS NO MEAN FEAT THAT THE TIME SLICE PRACTICE OF DANIEL CROOKS CONTINUES TO ASTOUND. COMMISSIONED FOR THE BIENNIAL ANNE LANDA AWARD, ON PERSPECTIVE AND MOTION (PART 2) IS NO EXCEPTION, PUSHING THIS EXPLORATION TO A NEW LEVEL OF LYRICISM.

Distributed across seven screens Crooks has captured (with seven cameras) a series of continuous 180 degree pans in Sydney’s Martin Place on a weekday. He has then disrupted the time line, oscillating between moments before and after themselves, morphing and stuttering between them. This humble description doesn’t begin to convey the intricacy of the work. The mesmerising result is a city folding, reversing, expanding and contracting on itself with perfect fluidity; a city in which pedestrians slip, slide and undulate in a sensuous dance of the everyday.

Over 23 minutes there are four sequences in which different qualities of movement and space are explored. In one sequence the pedestrians glide through the city: a woman floats across the road, the interlude between strides lengthened so that for brief moments she defies gravity, bringing to mind Laurie Anderson’s “walking and falling”; a businessman’s legs taper and elongate out behind him so that he becomes half man, half skateboard. In another sequence, pedestrian movements ripple: a woman with a strident arm-swing appears to moonwalk across the space, while other figures’ legs precede and follow them, like Balla’s dog. People appear from nowhere, emerging from invisible seams, splitting in two and scuttling off, while others walk towards themselves, disappearing on contact. Another section concentrates on the place itself, the buildings mirrored, extending beyond their limits to form liquid architecture; accelarating, the phenomenon spreads virally across the seven screens yielding a vast smear of stone and glass. In yet another sequence that seems slower than the rest, the figures are stationary, snap frozen like elongated cut-outs, as slices of the city bustle around them.

In his exploration of a form he has developed for almost a decade, Daniel Crooks has constantly impressed with his meticulousness. As there is never a uniform ‘apply all’ approach, it seems the artist has personally touched and manipulated each figure, each object, each background. This provides endless perplexing anomalies—why is the flower stall now over there? How is that man walking away on screen one, towards me on screen three, while staring at me from the distance on screen seven? Are those feet pointing forwards and backwards simultaneously?

Like many of Crooks’ works On perspective and motion is accompanied by a subtle yet effective score. The soundtrack of a modern city is emulated by tuned drones peppered with shuffles, squeaks, train noises and sirens. Understated, the half-heard familiar sound sources and insistent hum seep into consciousness, heightening the meditative and melancholy tone of the work.

People-watching in Martin Place is fascinating at the best of times. Here Crooks creates an environment of infinite curiosity and urban poetry. The manipulation of physical rhythms creates an elaborate choreography, revealing relationships within the crowds. The multiplication of individuals, splitting, meeting, deleting themselves, playing out past, present and future simultaneously creates powerful resonances. Amongst the dancing figures are delicate portraits suspended in time: a girl, still as death amidst the mêlée, staring straight at the camera; a family of four holding hands on the curb waiting to cross the road; a shoeshine man whose sign reads “helping myself, not begging.”

Crooks’ manipulation of time and spatial orientation within the fast-paced landscape opens a space for contemplation, and reveals the fragility of the anonymous individuals who make up a crowd. Playing with immutable laws of time and space in almost god-like fashion, Daniel Crooks offers us the opportunity to see ourselves from not just a different angle, but from another dimension.


Along with Daniel Crooks, the Anne Landa finalists were Philip Brophy, James Lynch, Monika Tichacek, Tony Schwensen, Grant Stevens and Daniel von Sturmer. Tichacek’s The Shadowers won the award.

Daniel Crooks, On perspective and motion (part 2), Anne Landa Award, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Nov 16, 2006 – Feb 11, 2007

RealTime issue #77 Feb-March 2007 pg. 33

© Gail Priest; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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