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In this week's Art Seen, Robyn Maree Pickens looks at works on display at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, including those from a collection of contemporary Chinese art.
"New Networks: Contemporary Chinese Art"
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Of course, each rise of entrepreneurial individuals depends on the labour of multitudes. Ai Weiwei's well-known work Sunflower Seeds (2010) and Xe Xiangyu's Tank Project (2011-2013) embody the inequities of labour in the very making of each work. Weiwei outsourced the making of one hundred million porcelain sunflower seeds (only a fraction exhibited here) to 1600 potters, while Xiangyu's leather tank was made by 35 leather workers. Xiangyu's tank is perhaps the most political work, as it recalls the showdown between "Tank Man" and a military tank in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
"Image struck (repeat)", William Linscott
(Dunedin Public Art Gallery Rear Window)
"Image struck (repeat)" (2018) is a short (6.05 minutes) video about the making of digital visual culture as a product of many transformed bits of data made by many hands. It is about the malleability of data as it is variously screenshot, downloaded, manipulated, uploaded and shared in its new form. It is therefore about the fragment, or, as the artist William Linscott following theorist Evan Calder Williams calls it, the "shard". According to Williams, the shard is a visual trope and itself a manifestation of the film-making process where film sequences are sent out to be worked on by animators around the world. In this process, the singularity of a director or cinematographer's vision is shattered and replaced by what Williams calls "incoherence".
Williams also discusses the moment of implication when an object strikes the camera and shocks the viewer into immediate presentness. Linscott fuses the theory of the shard with the moment of implication. "Image struck (repeat)" is a series of intermittent flares of activity with the question "Can we be struck by images?" in yellow-subtitle font and position. Each flare comprises a sequence of found footage in which the camera is struck in one way or another. Linscott calls these sequences "fail images". A generic water droplet filter cloaks the sequences as a means of amplifying viewer implication.