John Hurrell – 7 October, 2011
While some of these videos have been seen and heard previously in the Auckland Art Fair, Te Tuhi and Two Rooms, this is a particularly well considered arrangement - meticulously thought through with its sophisticated use of scale, height, sound source, sight lines and architecture.
27 September - 22 October 2011
It is unusual for Starkwhite to cover over their large street-front windows but the need for darkness has come from a presentation of five moving image / sound works by Clinton Watkins on their ground floor gallery, office and staircase. While some of these have been seen and heard previously in the Auckland Art Fair, Te Tuhi and Two Rooms, this is a particularly well considered arrangement - meticulously thought through with its sophisticated use of scale, height, sound source, sight lines and architecture.
Force Field (2010) Watkins’ main work has been seen in different permutations at other Auckland venues using other rectangular ratios. Here it fits in on the large main wall between the two elegant columns that dominate Starkwhite’s space, interacting with a film screen in the office, two monitors halfway up and below the stairs, and another on a sculpture stand by the window. Its horizontal bands of colour, formed from two overlapping projections, move vertically changing tone as they slide over each other, the composition generated by the sound source - not vice versa or independently produced.
The chunky coloured horizontal bands seem to allude to seventies Ted Bracey or Don Driver paintings, but they change alignment or dissolve into tilted jagged Clyfford Still forms - mixed with Japanesey textile patterns - when the pulse speeds up and turns into staccato clicks or whoops.
Sometimes Watkins can out-nuance the colour combinations of other painters like Thornley or Trusttum, or the crumbling dragged dry-brush textures of a Richter, even though it is moving projected light we are looking at. Even with just greys and hard edges his continually morphing forms hold your attention.
Force Field is about twenty minutes in its duration, a shrewdly drawn out, orchestrated sequence of chromatic moods and aural rhythms. The other works - all black and white - are much shorter.
In the office on a suspended screen Stride’s trotting horse (front legs only) paces alongside a white double railed fence. The soundtrack of delicately tinkling finger cymbals (or triangle?) seems randomly organised, deliberately at odds with the regular movements of the straining limbs before us.
Up on the doubled-back staircase Watkins’ video of a hawk silently gliding on some thermals seems to be about height itself and freedom beyond architecture. Below the stairs on the floor a loop of a wave disintegrating at the foot of the Huka Falls seems to refer to Katsushika Hokusai or some contemporary video master like Daniel Crooks.
Watkins’ fifth work Feedback (not counting a gorgeous video of the slow moving container vessel Wallenius Wilhelmsen showing in a small room upstairs) is of a spinning and toppling CD, filmed on a flat whiteboard so that you can see a landscapelike horizon line in the distance. That horizon line continues on in Force Field and Stride, both visible from Feedback’s position.
Available as a free Chartwell sponsored download at the recent Auckland Art Fair, this slowly turning, perfectly balanced (hand manipulated) disc with its sparkling edges, could be a vague tribute to Len Lye’s small sculpture Roundhead, its beautiful flat whirling plane referencing far more complicated, multi-directional concentric circles. Of course it speaks of its own methodology - as its reflexive name says - but the video’s symmetry also matches Force Field, as does its use of gravity, Wave. The disc’s falling to the ground becomes a foil, contradicting the perpetual freedom of the hovering bird in Hawk.
It’s quite an experience exploring this unusual configuration of videos; very bodily but lots to consider as you move around investigating and comparing the precisely positioned components. A treat.