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Time sliced, perception shifted

Mike Leggett

John Tonkin, time and motion study<br /> (holding on, letting go), 2003/2006 courtesy the artist John Tonkin, time and motion study
(holding on, letting go), 2003/2006 courtesy the artist
Motion implies movement, but is this always the case? Art movement—the deliberately ambiguous trope of this exhibition title—is a term used to delineate the discursive aspect of the making, reception and onward development of an aspect of visual arts production. But is change an essential component of such motion?

The seven-person group show at the UTS Gallery avoids hard-edged boundaries but manages to draw together a (recorded) performance (by Robert Pulie) and an architectural model (by M3Architecture group). There is a line joining the 2 exhibits and the other work—not the shortest route between 2 points but the sharply contrasted gradient between 2 fields by which an affinity is proposed.

As with many of the university located galleries, exhibition curation and design have something of a role in addressing pedagogical needs. Sited in UTS’ Faculty of Design Architecture and Building on Harris Street, the excellent run of shows in recent years have all managed exhibition design within the confines of a standard room-height office building and the limitations this imposes on the physical dynamics and scale of hosted exhibits.

Art Movement: explorations of motion and change addresses these limitations by playing with the perceptual apparatus of the human eye and the mind’s fascination with time in its representational form. M3Architecture group reproduces a scaled down version of the end wall of a Brisbane school building they designed, modeled using black stripe tape applied on 2 surfaces to create a Moiré interference pattern that vibrates as the viewer walks past the façade of the gallery.

The time-slice stripes of Daniel Crooks invoke the casual wanderings of gallery visitors with the apparently aimless criss-crossings of street life represented as (DNA-like) threads of images captured by Crooks’ custom-designed and made camera. The horizontal line forms the warp of place and the vertical line the weft of human presence—a hand here, a foot there, the midriff of anonymity emerging from interlocking ribbons of wavering movement. We are intrigued by observing the magic of a technology at work, like some digital kaleidoscope, and moved to unpick the weave thereby understanding something perhaps about contemporary convergences of subject and machine.

Sarah Ryan’s lenticular photo surfaces in contrast demand an interaction that reaffirms the agency of the observing subject, even for such subtle observations: the wavering of twigs on a deciduous tree, grey, foreboding but perfectly aligned with the observer’s memory of wintry encounters. In Sun, percolating light through treetops imaged vertically above confounds perspective and expectation by being hung on a wall. How much more confounding an affect would a ceiling mounting achieve (if the Gallery had the option of ceiling height)?

Physical interaction with John Tonkin’s Time and Motion Study (Holding On, Letting Go), progresses into the visitor authoring a time-slice series which can then be retrieved—using mouse control—as a line of self-portraits retreating into a black cosmos of screen space. (This reviewer missed a second installation, withdrawn by the artist to prepare for another show—the need for galleries to acquire their own technology remains paramount).

Tom Burless’ contemplative arrangement of projection and augmented-monitor indicated binary opposites: the image of the natural world in slow change, the urban man—his sound rumbling distinctly—flickering between opposite viewpoints, in the act of consuming food. Short video pieces by Paul Bai, somewhat to one side of the main thrust of the show, delivered the visual puns and paradoxes of earlier, though related, discourses on the observed moving image.

Motion control and the framing of time and space that propose change of viewpoint must continue to be explored not simply for the celebration of the “flux of matter” that Gabrielle Finnane reminds us of in the short catalogue essay, but more particularly through the definition of concept, the immersive state and affect.

Art Movement: explorations of motion and change, curator Ricardo Felipe; UTS Gallery, Sydney, June 27-July 28,

RealTime issue #75 Oct-Nov 2006 pg. 35

© Mike Leggett; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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