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Blindside Artist Run Space, Melbourne, Australia.

Flashbacks, 2009 «back next»


All photography courtesy of Brock Yates

Courier Mail: ETC, In the Frame, September, 2009

Bold intersection in time

Just who was Michael Jackson? A brilliant entertainer, a Peter pan who never grew up or a paedophile? His appearance changed, along with public perceptions. Multiple versions of Jackson live mundane existences in a pink modernist house in artist Chris Howlett's videos. But the soundtrack gives the vision a completely different meaning.

Michael Jackson 4 ways: Part 1

Screen Grab, Michael Jackson 4 ways: Part 1, HDVD, 16:9, PAL, Stereo, 8 min, 2009

The voice of Jackson can be heard declaring how much he loves children; rabid radio talk show hosts and even religious figures condemn him, and listeners make outraged comments, vastly at odds with the public outpouring of grief since his death.

It's part of Flashbacks, an exhibition of video art at Metro Arts that exposes social hypocrisy and poses questions such as: Where do I stand, and is that a fixed position? How does society construct perceptions?

Another set of screens invites the viewer to play a stalking game through dark woods, holding a weapon, while the soundtrack features returned soldiers from the second Iraq War telling of their disturbing experiences of injuries they received or inflicted on Iraqi civilians. In another setup, one figure resembles Kevin Rudd, and his pre-election speech can be heard - the words containing a different resonance with the passage of time.

Michael Jackson 4 ways, Part 4: HDVD video still, 2009

I found this exhibition intriguing as much for what it contains as the possibilities it suggests for a future direction for video art. Until now, artists have tended to use video in ways that weren't all that different from traditional film, such as mockumentaries, static shots or the recording of a specific act. (Like Shaun Gladwell's video at the Venice Biennale, Maddestmaximus, of a road warrior tenderly picking up roadkill.)

A few, like Peter Alwast, winner of last year's Premier's National New Media Art Award, have gone further and created sculptures in cyber space exploring multi-dimensional possibilities. However, with rapid developments in CAD architecture, it was only a matter of time before computer gaming, art and social commentary intersected.

Suzanna Clarke.

Boxcopy Multimedia Art Asia Pacific aass