Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This post been growing over the last week as I have been addressing my initial thoughts about the proposition of the light-boxes, alongside considering the material that has been offered in the posts so far. That said, there may be a little back-track...

My early thoughts were that there might be room to treat the light-boxes sculpturally, to escape the 2-dimensional surfaces presented by not using image at all. One early thought was to use translucent surfaces instead, such as colored nylon coats/veils for the light-boxes which could light up. However, embedded in the type of space proposed by the physical parameters of the light-boxes lies a particular and compelling challenge to address and interrogate the ‘how’, rather than the ‘what’, of the image – that is, how the image can operate within that space. Which leads to questioning what kind of space is this?
"(4:56) ...there's a space I'm moving around in, and it's a hot space: its breathing, and imagining, and producing revolution, culture, passion. It's the same space as a video paused. It's the same space as the spoon section of the separated peanut butter-oil mix. These spaces ask us to bring us together for a second and let yourself groove... ...(6:29) Paused video is good for the soul, it's physical, it's a participation, so is mixing up the peanut butter." (See Marnie's post Squaring the Circle or Unusual Uses for Veggies / original track link here.)
In this respect I am really interested in pursuing this idea of the light-boxes as slithers within public space, as agents of interface between public and private as Rachel has articulated, along with Marnie’s suggestion of the shallow light-boxes as spaces which might present a subject-object relationship within the image and to the surrounding park context. I am also very interested in the way Hito Steryerl’s text describes the relationship between object and subject in a public way. So how could the light-box images work as spaces to ‘position’ object and subject within the image and between the image and the light box context? In answering this, in my mind, they could start operating as ‘sculptural’ propositions again.

David Maljkovic, After Giuseppe Sambito, 2009. Wiels 2010. Photo: Michael De Lausnay.

Marnie’s proposition of hyperbola and the flattened subject-object spaces in the Cotan still life’s reminded me of this work of Croatian artist David Maljkovic we saw recently within a group show at Wiels. The work consisted of five to six double-sided uniform 1.8m high cases each with a different arrangement of a mounted tube-light, a dried palm frond and a B&W solarised photograph of an simplified architectural model each from a unique angle. The title of the work references architect Giuseppe Sambito who designed the Italian pavilion in 1960 for the Zagreb Fair during a period of intensive modernist gentrification sixties and seventies in Yugoslavia. Maljkovic hints to the world fair-like values and execution of this developmental period within this work through the organization of objects within the physical space of the cases. Perhaps this is where it deviates from Cotan’s images, but for me, both these works share a similar space to the type of space the light-boxes as Marnie has suggested might propose for us… a platform, stage, shallow display case, notice board or (to link it with Rachel’s proposition of a character and narrative) literal TV spaces. Furthermore, Maljkovic’s work seems to critique how these world fair spaces sit within their urban contexts.

Could these works also be helpful or interesting in the way we might consider Marnie’s proposition to focus content of the 16 light-box faces to articulate the subject and object relationship with the immediate physical context of Courtenay Place? Could we approach the formal aspect of the double-sided light-boxes to serve as ‘deceptive mirrors’? Could these help canvas plurality of the ‘accurate fictions of self’ Rachel has proposed, especially given the nature of this potential collaborative process? I am thinking for example, pictorial elements that move/disappear from one side to another? Could the light-box images act like changing film/stage sets of the poster Rachel has mocked up?

Five Veils (Pearl, Amber, Rose, Indigo and Violet) Clare Noonan, 2009-10

Above are a set images have been visually occupying my practice since mid last year. They are a set of postcard images I put together with coloured light-gel overlays to suggest a pane separating viewer/author and geographic landscape. I became interested in collecting these images as one of the few, consistent instances of outdoor photography which use portrait orientation. Given the tradition of portraiture and image making, these compositional anomalies become personified for me. As my research last year progressed into early New Zealand outdoor landscape photography, producing signs of a male-dominated field, these images stuck with me - I discovered later, I had overlooked a small silhouette of a woman at the bottom of the third image.

I wanted to share these as they came to mind before we started talking about the potential of collaborating on this project - in particular I was interested in how they might share a common ground with recent Liz's series of singlets based around the 'Man Alone' trope, sporting the slogans 'Man Alone', 'Women Together' and 'I Am'? I am still interested what these might offer into the mix within the curatorial context, and to the relationships between subject and object, lens and context.

Specifically, I am interested how the collapse of the pictorial space between author, frame and subject plays out through the use of the word 'veils' to describe and reference mechanisms between or pictorial elements within the depicted landscape. For example: the image's relationship between the subject of the waterfall; the camera lens or safe-light panel in-between; and the obscured pictorial content outside of the frame; and the flattening of these onto the same picture plane. I am thinking in particular about Barthes' articulation in Camera Lucida (Ch.4-6) of the changing roles, in his terms, of ‘operator’, ‘spectrum’ and ‘spectator’ throughout the process of taking and viewing a photograph. Could Barthes' take be helpful alongside Steryerl’s text, and Rachel’s binoculars and fictions of self? On that note, I shall sign off with a few of his words:
“It can happen that I am observed without knowing it, and again I cannot speak of this experience, since I have determined to be guided by the consciousness of my feelings. But very often (too often, to my taste) I have been photographed and knew it. Now, once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of "posing," I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image. This transformation is an active one: I feel that the Photograph creates my body or mortifies it,…” (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, pp.10-11).

Some additional notes:
Regards the collaborative potential for this project, I've been interested in the potential for the these 16 light-box faces to operate as a whole for a while (whether it be individual parts/images tied to the coherent whole or one whole work etc.) and proposition of working collaboratively seems to me like a good opportunity to do so. I also think that presenting a collaborative work together publicly is a very solidified gesture to address the curatorial context of gender and identity in itself, and furthermore, am excited about the potential to produce a particular yet accountable gesture within the public realm through such a discursive process.
Also, in continuing discussion of the project title, I’m liking a line in Rachel’s post ‘where it might be taking the left hand of darkness’.

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