Thursday, January 15, 2009


Yesterday alex and i went to do the rounds of AGWA and PICA on my day off, as we were in the city and i'd been meaning to do it for ages.

one show i want to talk about was Notebook by John Wood and Paul Harrison (from the UK) which is on in the screen space in PICA at the moment. I never feel like i give film works enough of my time and engagement, and even though i watched this particular piece for at least half an hour, because i saw neither the start or the end, just scene after scene without reaching a recognisable end, i felt i had failed it somewhat when i left. if i get a chance i might try go back later and see if i can watch the whole piece.

so anyway, it's just a series of really really simple scenes involving a white table in a grey room with various 'experiments' or simple actions, such as letting a toy car roll accross the table and fall off the other end, letting paint pots drip stripes of paint down a deck chair... etc.

i think what gave it the edge was the way the shots were framed by the camera, and how they used that to their advantage. in most cases, the movement that occured seemed somewhat mechanical, planned and precise, because of the removal of evidential human intervention/action, although it was obviously implied and present. it was maybe this implication which lent the work its rather British humour, like a subtle kind of silly humour.

What i found interesting was the way it played on your perception. as i mentioned before, in the framing and perspective of the scenes (each was framed differently) what is about to happen is slightly abstracted, and so there is this moment of surprise when the action occurs. a kind of tension, as you are given a couple of seconds to take in the scene before something 'happens', and then a kind of comic moment as your perception adjusts and you comprehend how they've done it. it was completely enjoyable, and hilarious and fun and engaging. i found myself quickly trying to guess what was going on before it occured, and then most times being surprised, like a little kid. some scenes were more successful than others, but i guess that had a lot to do with the level of surprise i got from it.

my favourite was probably the pouring of a bottle of milk onto a black rubber door-mat (the type with the rubber prong-like things). it had this kind of pixellation effect, like a really low-res computer screen changing colour from black to white. anyway, go see it before it finishes!

i just found this film on youtube of the same artists, but doing stuff which more openly involved the body. it's different to Notebook, but gives a good sense of the way they work and what they're interested in.

1 comment:

  1. Hey buddy, thanksamundo :) And yours will be more than enough too keep me in local loop so I'm not totally uncool when I come home :)