I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Stephen Haley is a painter and digital media artist with an extensive exhibition history. His new video work Fugue State uses computer-generated modelling to fly-through abstractions of shopping centres, cityscapes, and housing development.
The title Fugue State draws on multiple points of inspiration. In music, a fugue is a contrapuntal musical composition where two or more voices interweave and a key phrase or subject recurs in variation, often at a different pitch; a composition style that has been loosely used in the artists self-composed backing audio track. The title is also intended to recall the psychological condition known as a fugue state. In this state, the person undertakes a bewildered wandering and loses awareness of their identity, a circumstance something like sleepwalking. These amnesiac states often occur after a period of trauma. Haley suggests that "in a well-regulated, controlled and stable modern life some may be protected from direct serious trauma. However, in a digital age, we are all to some extent, exposed to disassociated traumas—wars, natural disasters, horrific accidents, abuses of power. Assailed by such abstract distress, we can compensate by surrendering to bewildered reverie".
Fugue State courtesy the artist and Mars (Melbourne)
In Fugue State Haley uses 3D modelling software, with scenes painstakingly modelled or arranged to be a virtual sculpture or simulated film set. Models are coated in textures, positioned, lit and finally 'filmed' by a virtual camera. The work intentionally references painting and is full of lush textures, complex compositions, and lighting effects. Like a painting, this is a work intended to be seen over and through time. It does not simply present a linear narrative like most video works, but a recurring spiral of sensations and effects that reveal more each time the viewer looks. The content is varied and poetic, the strange transitions between scenes intended to induce wonder rather than simple answers. When asked what the video is about the artist only half-jokingly replies "It is about what happens when you die. Or maybe, search the internet. Or fall into a reverie. Or how we live now".
In contrast to the disembodied gaze of Haley's work, Hannah Raisin and Diego Ramirez emphasise bodily engagements with our surroundings.
Soak, image courtesy of Hannah Raisin and Mars (Melbourne)
Raisin, since completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Victorian College of the Arts, has engaged in playful and subversive performance based exhibitions. Soak shows her traversing a waterfall, before plunging into the water, capturing the visceral enveloping of the body by the environment.
While Ramirez, an emerging multidisciplinary artist, and writer, works primarily with media in particular video developing installation projects for gallery contexts. His main goal is to scramble the script that dictates power relations in visual culture. His work, aXolotl's Happiness, again emphasises the body, and the banality of our interactions within the domestic space, even as this body enters the realm of the fantastic. aXolotl's Happiness is inspired by the axolotl, a neotenic salamander endemic to the lakes of Mexico with the unique capacity to regrow lost limbs and remain in a state of eternal youth. The work also draws upon Julio Cortazar's short story Axolotl (1952), a Kafkian narrative about a man that transforms into an axolotl.
Mars Video Exchange will be showing at Metro Arts Gallery 2 from 8 to 25 May 2019.