Videos presented by 1/2 dozen Curated by the 'pixel pirates', Soda_Jerk George Street Cinema, Sydney 25 January 2006
After a hilarious introduction of spliced adjectives by Australian film legend Bill Collins, Sam Smith sets the scene with Passage, where the viewer enters a series of portals, exploiting the transformative nature of the filmic landscape. A ball bounces in a dark space, eloquently highlighting the time-based nature of rolling footage, while the elasticity of time was exploited by other-worldly characters who elongate, shrink and socialise in a weird and wonderful netherworld.
Some artists directly sample film culture to make their point. Emil Goh's light-hearted rendition of speed, Trailer, literally fast-forwards the film, following the tantalising Keanu and crew opening credits. Glimpses of those familiar faces, explosions, romance and suspense speed up to the sound of de-spooling cellular, spanning a total of two minutes. This process, despite collapsing the narrative entirely, made somewhat worrying sense.
Soda_Jerk's own piece, Attack of the Astro Elvis begins by ripping Universal Picture's animated logo to create 'Universal Piracy' an appropriate title. From Kubrick's apes smashing bones to the sound of hip-hop, to the twitching Michael Jackson clone and Elvis the Holy man, no cult filmic figure is spared. Presented as a trailer for a feature-length film, 'part Biblical epic', 'part UFO Abduction thriller' with 'a subplot of troubled romance', Soda_Jerk exploits every film cliché in the book.
Another more cryptic exercise in exposing film formula is Brendan Lee's offering, Out of the Blue. By borrowing his locations from the classics Romper Stomper and Dogs in Space, Lee toys with a number of quintessentially Australian film moments: the apathetic youth, the desolate urban landscape, the foreboding masked antagonist (wearing a plastic Australian flag mask), the haunted look back over the shoulder and the chase scene. However the humour-based quotations that underly Lee's piece are in danger of being reduced to in-jokes for those in the know.
Grant Stevens presents perpetual one-line soap operas, in which the lives of Bianca, Billy, Randy and Joey unfold like a misspent evening with the remote control. Their far-fetched chronicles read like a twisted teenager's diary. A soothing orchestral score bizarrely accompanied his murders, boyfriends, trivia and scandal.
Stephen Fox's lengthy homage to Hitchcock's The Birds provides a world away from soap. In scenes taken from the film, Fox obliterates every bird from the footage. Filling the negative space of each bird with other footage and slowing audio to a low groan, he creates a complex montage of absent menace. At the climax the birds attack the family, but with the birds obliterated, the people seem to be shielding and fighting a demonic, imagined force.
Another cult thriller resurfaces in the subsequent work by David Lawrey and Jaki Middleton where multiple Michael Jacksons are trapped in a continuous moon-walk under a strobe light. Referencing the Victorian kinetoscope tradition, the subject's fragmented movements appear linear through a trick of the eye, mimicking the robotic zombie that we all know and love. Tara Marynowsky also referenced the historical foundations of cinema with a beguiling series of retro pilots and a wide-eyed chorus of singers hamming it up from the sky with a kitsch kaleidoscope of falling planes, mouthing belles and fireworks.
For some, the platform of the cinema presents an opportunity to toy with the expectation of narrative. Wilkins Hill adopts the diaries of great Australian explorers, distancing both our experience and theirs by delivering them in electronic monotone. Teamed with rippling, spinning renditions of the Australian landscape, this work attempts to recreate the otherworldliness and suffering of the new frontier.
Familiar scenes and phrases follow a more unruly narrative in Matthew Tumbers' work. Still images and dismembered text enter an algorithmic pattern in which disparate chapters; epic notions, Multiplex cinema complexes and forged senior citizen's discount cards are seemingly randomly interspersed with mathematical symbols.
Ms & Mr provide a dark and abstract fairytale ending with The Wedding Video. Compiled from a stylised montage of the couple's special day, this begins with the disappearance of the couple under an invisible cape from where they witness a macabre spectacle with pig-masked guests and smoke belching organ pipes. Portrayed as if visiting their own fantastical funeral, the piece plays with the notion of marriage as a disembodied process of both ending and beginning.
There are ripe pickings in Australian new media. As Soda_Jerk says, 'video art and choc tops. Sounds good.'