Daniel Crooks

4 March - 9 April 2011

Crooks’ ‘time-slice’ videos and photo projects since 1999 manipulate the elements of digital video and imagery, breaking up flows of real time and space experienced in conventional film and video media into fluid and reassembled presentations of the surrounding world. A ‘slice’ of an image or frame of a video is selected by the artist, stretched and spread across the screen, so that people in their environments unexpectedly pause and warp, flatten and sprawl in a lush digital sweep of shifting pixels. While distorting elements of the pictorial scene, Crooks tethers his treated images to indexical reality – anchoring his altered subjects to static elements and untreated footage. The familiar world of pedestrians, cars, trains and elevators, the humdrum traffic of the everyday, transmogrify into wildly organic deviations from the way we experience the passing of time, and our daily routines. Depth of field flattens and objects are alternately freed and coerced into their viscous movements on the screen.

In Static no. 11 (running man) (2008), for which he won the inaugural Basil Sellers Art Prize, the body and movement of a man running on a treadmill is altered while his background surrounds remain static, until the ground beneath begins to break apart. In slow motion, limbs and torso appear to separate from each other, pulling away from against the limits of the body and contracting again with hypnotic and mesmeric motion, slowing down until the form freezes and is eventually erased. In such works, Crooks presents an alternative model of how we see the world, akin to the fantastic special effects of pioneer filmmakers the Lumière Brothers or to the efforts of Cubist painters to render different perspectives simultaneously on a two-dimensional plane.

Crooks premiered a new video at the 17th Biennale of Sydney on Cockatoo Island, Static No.12 (seek stillness in movement), last year, which takes as its subject the slow and graceful movements a man he filmed randomly taking tai chi exercise in a Shanghai park. Crooks’ study of this gentle martial art is a meditation on the movements themselves, and the sequence of tai chi forms appears and disappears in a molten assemblage of attenuated body parts. The body’s movement spreads horizontally across the frame and the viewer is astonishingly privy to the entire span of the practitioner’s compelling routine, all at once, compressed into single moments and expanded across time.

Static No.12 (seek stillness in movement) 2010
HD (Blu-ray), 16:9, 05:23 min, Stereo
courtesy Anna Schwartz Gallery

Pan no. 8, 2011
HD (Blu-ray), 16:9, 05:26 min, Stereo
courtesy Anna Schwartz Gallery