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Archive for July, 2010

The multi-media installations were the standouts on Cockatoo Island. By using nine projectors and nine screens Isaac Julien was able to project different images onto each of the screens while maintaining the same sequence of images for each projected video. This meant that if I sat in the middle of the space and moved my head slightly I could view eight – nine different moving images within a few seconds as none of the projectors were synchronised. However my reading of the various images remained the same because the sequencing of the images was constant. Waves and a female ghost with long black hair were recurring themes throughout the video sequence. My reading of the ghost was that she was the transcendent spirit of the Chinese people. Julian frequently intercut her image with dramatised scenes from decadent pre-revolutionary China, the Maoist era and footage of urban development in the 21st century. The visual quality of the images, editing and time delayed, multi-screening  of the video installation is a must for cine and Sinophiles but you will have to be quick because the Biennale ends on the 1st of August.

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I can’t  image what it was like to experience the wonders of photography in the early 1900’s but Alfred Steiglitz’s photographs at the NSW Art Gallery provided me with a benchmark for photographic development in the twentieth century. From the palladium print to gelatine to silver and gelatine and ultimately to the pocket sized digital/video camera or the photographic images taken on your iphone and shared with hundreds of friends on Facebook. Steiglitz used the camera as a modern tool but wanted photography to be recognised as an art form. He was unimpressed by machines such as his wife, Georgia O’Keefe’s, motor car but embraced technological developments when it supported his desire for greater abstraction in photographic images such as his prints of constantly changing cloud formations.

Maybe he was concerned more with the manner in which the car liberated O’Keefe and enabled her to drive to New Mexico and spend increasing amounts of time painting in the desert while the aging Steiglitz was restricted to working in New York. The rapidity of change in just a couple of decades, viewed through the lens of Steiglitz and taken in the context of the technological developments and changes in art forms over the last decade led me to contemplate upon my very small place in this ever changing world.

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