One Hour Glass
Melbourne Age Review by Penny WEBB Friday June 20, 2014
Five Walls Projects | curated by Kieran Boland
While I accept that reflecting on the spatial and temporal arrangement of the elements of a film’s sound and image tracks is not everyone’s idea of a fun time, the more interesting works in One Hour Glass at Five Walls also invite such contemplation.
Exemplary, I guess, in a program curated around consideration of the properties of glass, is Emily Chen’s Pulse, 2014, 2 minutes, which features a shot through plate glass into the interior of a flat-bed scanner in operation. Chen’s work is abstract, but Biophilia, 2014, 1m06, a mini drama with the economy and style of an adidas ad, by Daniel Good John and Alexandra Peters, exploits narrative conventions for humorous effect, and preserves another marker of technological change – the precious glass shopfront of a mid-20th century suburban electrical appliance retail and repair shop.
Any representational image accrues meaning just by virtue of its documentary function. With the death of Mark McDean (1961-2014), Sally Mannall’s Near Distance (2004, 5m02), which follows McDean’s fleetingly glimpsed silhouetted figure as he walks, guided by torchlight, through coastal scrub to a beach, becomes not just a poetic inscription of a figure in the landscape, but a poignant reminder of lived time. The graphic power of Mannall’s fidgety beam of light (and atmospheric sound effects that crucially enhance the experience of walking in McDean’s shoes) may be compared with a design element of Stephen Garrett’s Level (238 Lodz), 2007, 9m35. Shot through the window of a moving train, Garrett’s work also features a temporal trace, in that a small amount of rain water, trapped between a join in the window glass, responds to the movement of the train, its jumping about or settling down, acting as an indexical sign of the conditions of travel. At the same time, the horizontal join in the glass, superimposed on the landscape, returns us constantly to an awareness of the picture plane and to thoughts of how we frame our viewing.
Place as mood is exploited in a number of works, including two by Polly Stanton. Suburban Memory, 2011, 6m40; and Three Rooms, 2014, 9m30, both of which appear to be concerned with the psycho-drama, or sentience, experienced in inhabited spaces – especially if the interior is now abandoned, as in the latter, which features snow-filled rooms. This sort of static work is well received in galleries as it sits on the walls so comfortably.
Boland’s program also includes works by Stephen Haley, Susan Jacobs, Justin Moore, Brie Trenerry, Dominic Redfern and 1m04 of his own Super 8 footage, Bucketmen Interlude (2014). These two venues are offering an index of approaches to that most nuanced, and, what I feel to be, most ''Melbourne'' of media – film.