Two Rooms presents a collection of film works by five video artists. These include Clinton Watkins, Gregory Bennett and Judy Darragh from the Two Rooms stable along with invited artists Dorota Mytych (Poland) and Alex Monteith.
The artists in this exhibition use a variety of visual media to create their film works. Techniques utilised include computer animation, slow motion capture, drawing and painting that are looped in long or short sequences. Although the subject matter is diverse and methodologies range from high to low tech, common themes and interests emerge from these abstracted works. The artists are concerned with a visual representation of time or motion. Filmed sequences abstract reality, controlling and disassembling the workings of time, and the mechanics of movement. Time is not only a dimension that moves forward, but repeats, dissolves and moves backwards. These mesmerising works attempt to capture and emphasise that elusive point between one discrete moment and the next.
Clinton Watkins’ new works ‘Stride’ and ‘Light’ perpetuate fragments of time by stretching, suspending and repeating isolated movement. High-speed video technology encapsulates in slow motion details unknown to the human eye. In particular, the single stride of a galloping racehorse and the pendulum motion of a light fixture. Visual subtleties, nuances and movement are amplified at 300 frames per second allowing closer examination and re-contextualization of a minute event.
Gregory Bennett’s animations explore the ergonomics of the human body through the rhythms of movement and the idiosyncrasies of computer rendering. By keeping his work stripped back to the barest essentials, he not only presents a bustling study of bodily motion reminiscent of Eadward Muybridge’s early photographic studies or Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, but also the quirky malfunctions that result from translating human ergonomics into computer programming. Marching in tight formations only possible in the electronic realm, Bennett’s work resembles the kaleidoscopic-choreography of Busby Berkley’s Broadway spectacles. Slight shifts between each performer produces spiraling phasing patterns that visually mimic the way sound-waves also interact when slightly out of sync, a phenomenon often exploited by experimental composers. 1
Judy Darragh has made a number of video works, which have animated her experiments in the two-dimensional. Her work 365 Daze 1997 was a way to keep making work with little time after the birth of her child. “I could make a page a day” it was probably the only art for the day. The work talks about the ”daze“ of the first year of motherhood. Also fundamental are The Rorschach Ink tests in which one is asked to determine something in the inkblot, a bit like “seeing” something in an artwork. What you saw determined your mental state. These shapes in 365 Daze have qualities pertinent to childbirth. The images were first exhibited as copies on the wall, but the pages were laboriously scanned and edited and the work took on another dimension as moving image. The ink bleeds from page to page, a continuous thought passing in time.
Dorota Mytych draws and redraws photographic images using such unlikely materials as tealeaves and sugar granules. She meticulously draws a found image or family photograph and having skillfully recreated the photograph the granules are then slowly blown away. Inherent in the instability of the materials, the photographs start to disintegrate and the images collapse and metamorphosise, through the abstract and back to the human. The process is slow, particle-by- particle, drawing the viewer into the dreamlike transformation.
Dorota Mytych grew up in Poland in the 1980s during the communist era. She graduated from the Istituto d’Arte LDM, Florence Italy in 1996. Since 1992 she has exhibited regularly in solo and group exhibitions in Poland, Italy, America, Germany, The Netherlands and Australia. In 2008 she was awarded the Chretzeturm Fellowship in Switzerland and was an artist in residence with the Camargo Foundation in France. Mytych has been the recipient of several prestigious international and national art prizes and residencies and her work is held in both private and public collections.
Alex Monteith’s work incorporates sound, performance, photography, film, video, kinetic and network components. Her large-scale works have involved collaboration with specialists from outside the art-world including sheep-dog triallists and New Zealand racing motorcyclists.
Ascents and Descents in Realtime is a single-channel video work from a suite of large-scale video installations dealing with motorcycle culture (series 2007– ongoing) in Aotearoa. The broader motorcycle-speed performance series is preoccupied with specific kinds of movement performed by different cultures of riders (road riding, race-track, trail and Moto-X) and in the potential of this movement to be performed in relation to video documentation strategies for installation. Ascents and descents in realtime is an un-choreographed recording of the of Moto-X riders at the famous Ahipara dunes, around the point from Shipwreck Bay in Northland, in summer 2008. The slope of the dune is between 45 and 50 degrees and the work is straight documentation of the weekend antics of the Moto- X scene as they attempt, over and over, to ascend the dune.