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“Line of Site”
Kieran Butler, Thomas Robertson and Katherine Rooke are three younger artists exploring the potential of photography to ”alter and abstract a surface. Collectively a sense of orientation or direction is lost as the work traces the uncommon in the ordinary, observing and mapping our own interaction within an urban context.” Thomas Robertson’s contribution consists of a photograph ‘Watch Tower’, video/light installation and sound installation which is intriguing, especially the “Twitter Box” with its subliminal and penetrating sounds, but ultimately did not hold my attention.
The photographs by Katherine Rooke are subtle, subdued in colour and beautifully realized. Lambda prints Memory Mapping # 1 to #12 are produced using light, shadow, string, rope and masking tape, blue, black and white against neutral grey concrete surfaces and other architectural features such as roller doors. Only in #12 is the pattern disrupted by a dose of reality; a small pile of debris towards the left hand side. The artist has noted that the works record her “attempts to trace the ever-changing position of light and shadow” and “mirror the somewhat futile attempts of the photograph to preserve a moment in time”. For me these works are timeless images that intrigue and satisfy even over multiple viewings.
By contrast, Projecting Point, the series of photographic prints by Kieran Bradley are awash with colour, admittedly the use of brilliant colour is subtle and the content minimal. He states that his practice is focused on photography’s relationship with observation, vision and representation and experimental observation of colour, light and materiality. The results are an unreal, almost three dimensional, look at two surface planes intersecting, and the viewer is unsure whether this is a solid object or a trick of light and camera. Each art work is a beautiful image, and my only, albeit slight, reservation, is that I feel, floating in the background, is an emotional sterility, that what I am looking at is an interesting scientific experiment rather than the result of a passionate encounter with colour. This is only a niggle, I still love the results.
"I need a dollar"
Britta Opel is not going to sit back and starve in a garret, she has taken action in the form of a satirical comment on affordable art and the need of an artist to earn a living from their art. Britta does have a point in that visual artists are on the bottom rung of the ladder when it comes to income generated from their art practice. In the 2003 Australian Council study “Dont give up your day job” it was noted that apart from cultural development officers who earn slightly less, visual artists generate the lowest income of any, including writers (top), actors, musicians, craft etc. Visual artist’s earnings are particularly poor when compared with professionals who have undergone 4-6 years of training, which is similar to the length of training undertaken by many practising professional artists.
I need a dollar consists of three vending machines, each filled with art works inspired by a theme, Fruit & Vege, Curiosities and Sweets ‘n’ Treats, from which the viewer can select a $2 art work or a $4 art work. Make your selection, insert coin/s, turn handle and an art work drops into the tray.
The art works are made from basic materials, cardboard, collage, pen and coloured ink, but for all that they are interesting and well thought out. The interaction also has an element of chance. With vending machines for confectionary such as Mars or Picnic bars what you see at the front of a line of confectionary is exactly the same all down the storage line, in this case you can only see the art work at the front of the line but it is the art work at the back of the line-up that drops into the tray.
Shoalhaven Contemporary Art
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Max Dingle, artist, independent curator and writer resides on the south coast of NSW, Australia