IN AND OUT OF THE LOOP.
Review by Robert Nelson.
Publication - The Age-The Culture,
July 9, 2003, page 6.
Recently there was an exhibition at Monash called-Feedback. It would have been
a suitable name for the prosaically titled PROJECT ONE at the VCA Gallery curated
by John R Neeson. The best works have a kind of feedback loop as their key motif.
In a work called fidelity, Leslie Eastman aims a security camera at a translucent
screen on which a digital projection casts an image from the other side. The
source of the -projector's image is the security camera. The feedback loop is
But, the zone of light on the screen flickers, for the impulses recorded by
the camera and relayed by the projector are not quite constant but chaotically
shift by strange pulses, as if the closed circuit machine has a primitive kind
of life; it doesn't behave in a totally mechanical way.
The intrepid viewer may also intercept the beam with a hand which interrupt
the projection. The image changes in notably different ways if you disrupt the
input or the output, which makes you realise that the symmetry of the machine
isn't predictably mechanical either but, strangely elastic. The fact that the
central image is a fuzzy zone makes you speculate about some romantic ghost
in the machine.
There's further feedback with MichaeI Graeve's monumental tower of old speakers
and amplifiers. They take their signal from microphones in the air-conditioning
duct; and much as I tried to influence the sound that loops through the system,
I could only hear lots of air -conditioning. That's exactly the feeling you
have in a modem building, haunted by the ubiquitous insensible hum of fanned
Natasha Johns-Messenger has created a beautiful maze of
passages and mirrors. You enter a corridor that proposes a long straight perspective;
but you soon encounter a mirror at the corner- as if you're in a periscope-
then another mirror and another, until you come to a terminal wall with a little
oculus at eye height. This is a kind of vanishing point for the perspective
that you first imagined. If you peep through the Iens you see the rusty buildings
of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, which, at the moment has an exhibition
called The labyrinthine effect.
The feedback loop operates on many levels. One gallery
looks at another (and vice versa). One labyrinth answers another. One representational
system reflects another: single-point perspective is answered by a lens. The
infinity of the vanishing point is answered by the intimacy of the peephole.
And the straight is convoluted, confounded and disconcerting, while at the same
time being entirely rational and optically well engineered.
John Neeson's own work also involves reflection. He paints four abstract pictures
next to a glass wall. On the other side, the same pictures are mirrored by another
four. You read this symmetry as a reflection in the pane of glass. So you shift
your position to sort out the feedback systems before you realise that the other
four pictures are real.
Some of the work tracing the loops of electricity and fire hose and the wall
transfers seem thin; and when you first enter, there isn't much to see. But
if you stay with the best works, you're certainly left with plenty to think