Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 1 - Video
Log 1 - Video

Auckland Roundup
Joyce Campbell


Although Auckland has been privy to a great deal of art practise of all kinds of late, the one night that stood out for me as being both relevant to the theme of this issue, and as a showcase of some of the more engaged artists currently working here, was 'Shadows and Fog', Fiat Lux's inaugural video screening. Fiat Lux are committed to a varied programme supporting artists operating at a range of professional levels. Most of the works featured in 'Shadows and Fog' were by visual artists moonlighting in a "lighter" medium, and obviously enjoying it. Video in the hands of the technically challenged can be remarkably revelatory, and many works verged on the confessional...

Tessa Laird's 'The Life of Bryony'
Poet/artist Bryony Jagger is captured in her own environment, contemplating the various colours and textures of domestic entrapment; replete with personal associations and even more personal attire. Never seduced by the excesses of technology, Tessa's documentary technique owes as much to David Bellamy's arguably presumptuous empathetic zeal, as to the predatory fervour of Real TV. Where Bryony's fancy wanders, Tessa follows, her succession of grinding pans and stumbling zooms roughly approximating the mind's eye. Because ever-present, the film maker is thoroughly implicated, in turn freeing us to indulge our curiosity in a truly remarkable creative spirit. Bryony lets it all hang out, "lovely vulval excitation" and all. Who am I to patronise that kind of passion? Meanwhile, Tessa's treading a pretty fine line.

Vaughan Gunson's 'Holiday Fun'
Off to the beach to paint a Karl Marx banner? Not my idea of a picnic but at least it was a nice day for it.

Megan Dunn's 'The Rose'
As Bette Midler wails and Max Ernst's "magnificent romantic surrealist canvases" roll by " open(ing) windows into extraterrestrial worlds" the great surrealist master starts to look something like a panel van artiste. The Rose; a ballad of cultural equality? I'm not sure whether Megan's intention is to elevate Midler through undermining Ernst, or vice-versa. That depends on your point of view, and that's really the point. As the two superstars play it off in an attempt to make us feel more, we come to the realisation that, high and low, we're all after the same thing; Some say love…

Daniel Malone's 'The Strike Church'
This is a video document of a stage one Elam performance in which Daniel Malone and Martin Poppelwell dragged a piano up to Symonds street and attacked it with a couple of French sticks. My suspicion of men who prod things with French sticks aside, it's an energetic tribute to Joseph Beuys - there are the felt hats, walking canes, Agee jars and various other rigmarole in case we missed the significance of the piano (though Daniel reveals a closer physical resemblance to Adam Ant than prime mentor Beuys, who never got into those dangly earrings).

Taisha Hutchison 'Untitled'
This is a video document of a stage two Elam performance project in which Taisha Hutchison brutalised a row of miniature tin huts by flicking, kicking and dousing them with buckets of water. Taisha's presence is certainly the most engaging thing about this film, and after watching it a couple of times I've come to regard it as a self portrait.

Robert Hutchinson's 'Against Nature'
The film of the book is a tale of late gothic flamboyance; 19th century French decadence, heavily disguised as a role-playing meet in the English Lit. reading-room. A perfectly type-cast Matthew Highland plays the neurotic, agoraphobic, impotent aesthete Des Esseintes. He sneers at a couple of small children squashing chunks of bread into each other's sweaters (echoes of The strike church here?), and is thus driven into self imposed exile through his desire to escape the horror of human mundanety. It's difficult to know whether Hyland made this role or the role made him.

Graeme McFellen 'Untitled'
I imagine Des Esseintes might have admired Graeme McFellen, a genuine aesthete, committed to staying cosy and getting his cultural fix from the telly. McFellen's canine alter ego whiles away his days and nights in leisurely reverie over an apparently endless string of Coronation Street closing credits. It's purgatory with an afghan knee rug.

David Townsend's 'Danse Classique'
David once again goes a few steps further than Daniel, this time delving back to a previous creative incarnation as anti-hero Captain Hook in the Janete McCutchin School of Dance's 1988 performance of Peter Pan. This is the first and last performance in which David had no control over his wardrobe. For those who have wondered at the motivation for some of his later performance work this little gem provides some clues.

Janene Knox's 'CanDance' and 'The City That Shimmies'
Fiat Lux's placement of the projection screen in their Hobson street window frontage provided a public interface at times more fascinating than the videos themselves. It also meant a welcome shift in context for Knox's films, sex industry snap shots originally produced for a general public screening and risking the icy indifference of a stoically alternative art audience. Is there nothing these people haven't seen?

The Night Cleaners' 'Carry on Alien Nurse'
The Alien Nurse and her hermetically sealed side kick, decked out in full protective/receptive kitchen-ware, set out to transmogrify the thermal wonderland, hampered only by a crew of mind numbing, vac-pack totting genuine night cleaners. With a keen eye for the absurd and a mesmerising table-top hula routine, Alien Nurse is the sickest and sexiest tape in the selection. Eat your heart out Russ Meyer. Pure in-camera editing here - we even get a brief glimpse of our stars on a holiday cruise, relaxing before that final shoot in the luv tub, and...

'Aunty's Kitchen'
More kitchen implements. More sick puppies. More noise. The ubiquitous Daniel Malone pops up again as an abused Igor suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

That pretty much covers everyone who's done anything around here in the last few months, give or take a few Australians. Graeme McFellen's Kisser show re-featured his favourites, gallery hosts Megan and David. There's more retrospective Taisha at Lopdell House right now, Daniel is paired up with Denise Kum at Teststrip for some prosthetic kung-fu antics, Saskia Leek (aka Alien Nurse) is showing at Jonathan Smart Gallery and her Side Kick Simon Cumming seems to be everywhere right now, with shows in the world's smallest gallery (really?), C.B.D. and Teststrip, and a new film in the pipeline. Looking forward to that one.

Joyce Campbell



Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room