Gregory Bennett’s practice draws on a range of diverse sources in its exploration of moving and still image work. These include the photographic studies of humans in motion by Eadweard J. Muybridge, the elaborate geometric choreography of 1930s Hollywood musical choreographer Busby Berkeley, the looped animations of nineteenth century optical toys, Renaissance depictions of the body, and the aesthetics of the contemporary digital video game.
Bennett’s imagery is created digitally – all of the components are built and animated using 3D modeling and animation software. Aesthetically Bennett retains an unembellished look with regard to the shading and texturing of his 3D figures and environments, acknowledging the ‘generic’ digital source of his elements.
Starting with the actions of a generic male figure, Bennett creates his moving image pieces in a modular fashion, building up units of performed movements, loops and cycles, creating a sometimes complex movement vocabulary. His figures occupy a space between the animate and the inanimate, between automata (devices that move by themselves) and simulacra (devices that simulate other things), recalling Roger Cardinal’s description of the animated film which ‘enacts the lie of breathing life into what is dead or has never been alive’.
Bennett’s recent work has started to depict figures in relationship to simple environments and architecture. Inspired by Renaissance depictions of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, these new works explore both psychological and philosophical themes, as his active and passive figures occupy a series of unstable spaces, both interior and exterior.
Bennett is currently a lecturer in Digital Design at AUT University and undertaking doctoral studies at The School of Art and Design. Bennett has received numerous awards and grants for his work and has exhibited at Auckland Art Gallery, Artspace, Experimenta in Melbourne and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney where he was included in the major New Zealand survey Headlands. His work has also been screened at film festivals throughout New Zealand and is represented in the collections of Auckland University, Chartwell and private collections internationally.