Thursday, 4 December 2008

Zac Dutton - Untitled Installation, and more on Jenny Francis

Something I forgot to mention about Jenny Francis' installation was the sound. Two small speakers played a quiet clinking soundtrack, punctuated by burbling. Was this the sound of the artist's stomach, digesting? No, she said it was a microphone placed at her throat while she ate. Indeed, there was occasionally a familiar voice that went, 'Hrr-hmm!' However, I could be mistaken for thinking that I was hearing stomach burbles, as the Jenny Francis soundtrack was merging with the one from the next room, much louder, more repetitive, but punctuated with diving burbles which could be mistaken for stomach noises, except for their 4/4 regularity.

This was the 'Untitled Installation' of Zac Dutton, which occupied the Project Room from 2-4 December. It consisted of the audio, and a video projection beamed onto four large panels which merged into a single painting, going round the corner of the room and onto the floor.

First, the painting. I thought the energy and colours of it were fantastic. The style he has been working in this term, exploiting the properties of high-gloss emulsion, is like Jackson Pollack in a viscous slow motion, allowing the colours to marble and mix. The larger he goes, the better the pieces seem to get (which may be bad news for the rest of us, as soon he will be taking up almost as much studio space as me!). This triptych goes round the corner, with the fourth panel joining them together on the floor. I didn't quite have the nerve to take my shoes off and walk on the piece, but that was what it seemed to invite. On the other hand, it is so glossy that it looks wet all the time, even after days drying.

This glossiness led to a slight problem with the video projection: there was a distracting glare spot where the projector reflected its own light. And the video animation of Zac's painting methods, which had looked so interesting when I watched its progress in the Mac lab, were heavily pixilated when projected on the wall, in a way that clashed with the fluid forms of the painting. The value of the colours, in terms of brightness and contrast, were also completely different between the actual paint in the darkened room, and its brightly lit projected representation. Perhaps this was meant to be a comment on digital representation, but I think not. I realise it is probably outside of the timescope (and budget) for a term project, but a projection of an 8mm or 16mm cinefilm transfer of the video would have preserved those luscious ovals instead of chopping them into little squares.

The audio track really grew on me - it's amazing how much he had developed from what we learned in the audio workshop. I was wondering, as his poster suggested that the piece was a response to the act of painting, whether these were digitally altered sounds of the slop of paint, etc. It was very hard to tell. It was quite musical... and in places, yes, it did sound like stomach noises. But musical ones.

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