Phil Dadson and Micheal Stevenson @ The Physics Room
May 16 - June 22
The third instalment in the Physics Room's 3x2 series, like its
two predecessors, pairs disparate installations by two artists of
starkly contrasting styles: Philip Dadson and Micheal Stevenson.
Dadson's installation, "Voicings", consists of three television
monitors and a set of three lamps, face down and elevated a small
distance off the floor. Each of the lamps and monitors emits a single
colour - red, green and blue (the basic video colour format). The
space is lit by three naked bulbs, also red, green and blue accompanied
by three separate soundtracks, which, along with the video content,
will change over the course of the show.
Dadson, who teaches time-based arts at the Elam school of Fine Arts
in Auckland is a sound/video artist perhaps best known as the founder
member of Auckland music/performance group From Scratch.
He intends 'Voicings' in part as a response to the physical environment
of the Physics Room. Dadson has never visited the gallery space,
and sees his lack of familiarity with it as integral to his installation.
"I had no idea of what the Physics Room even looked like. So I requested
Tessa [Laird, the Physics Room's director] to make a video recording
at the space to give me some context. On the video she gave a very
thorough and detailed description, and this will be one of the soundtracks
'Voicings' also has a participatory element. Every Sunday throughout
its running time, a video camera will be set to record in the gallery
from 12:30 to 2:30 pm, via which visitors can dialogue with the
artist. In a handout which accompanies the show, Dadson encourages
gallery-goers to interact. "Should you chance by and feel so inclined,
please give voice to any feelings about this space, your presence,
my absence, what's in it, what's not and what's what...straight
onto tape...no fuss, simply voice into the microphone and/or face
into the lens...or whatever...your choice! I will receive the tape
within a day or two...and so a dialogue may develop across the next
5 weeks. I look forward to talking with you."
Stevenson's installation is participatory, albeit in a rather different
manner. Starting out as a pop-influenced painter in the mid/late
80s, Stevenson has since moved into the realm of conceptual art,
and in recent years has proved himself to be one of New Zealand's
more intriguing and entertaining artists. His recent work has bitingly
satirised other artists and the artworld, a theme which he continues
in his contribution to 3x2, entitled 'Let Those Who Ride Decide.'
It comprises two shop riders - motorised mobility chairs with in-
built storage compartments, of the kind favoured by senior citizens
for movement in and around supermarkets and shopping centres. "They'll
be powered up, so the punters are welcome to ride around and decide
about anything and everything really" Stevenson explains.
"That's why it's called 'Let Those Who Ride Decide'. The idea is
that people ride on them and assume the artist's mantle of bitterness,"
he continues. "A lot of my work recently has been concerned with
bitterness in the art world. Bitterness is the nectar of the artworld.
The riders are manifestations of some kind of bitterness. Ronnie
van Hout described them as 'vehicles for artists who used to be
The vehicles have specially installed pervert mirrors affixed to
the footrests. "They're for looking up people's dresses," says Stevenson.
"They can be adjusted to the correct angle. They do work - I've
The vehicles are also loaded up with a range of items, including
shopping bags and drums. "Some of the bags are from art supply stores,
and some are Duty Free bags," says Stevenson. "Obviously, alcohol
and cigarettes are essential for artistic behaviour, which is something
I'm very interested in. Duty Free is the main reason why artists
travel overseas. It's why Julian Dashper travels so much."
12 June 1997