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People view a multichannel video work in a large gallery Shaun Gladwell: Stereo Sequences
  • Shaun Gladwell: Stereo Sequences

    Shaun Gladwell’s exhibition Stereo Sequences featured five new installations commissioned by ACMI. Filmed in Australia – in a disused mining tunnel in the Wollemi National Part, the dusty highways of Broken Hill, the lush foreshores and wetlands of Victoria’s east coast and the subterranean underpasses of inner city Sydney – this suite of works plays with concepts of duality, parallels and mirroring.


    Parallel Forces, 2011

    The eight screen Parallel Forces is Gladwell’s most ambitious exploration of the dual, mirrored image in terms of scale and composition. With four pairs of opposing screens set on the walls of the gallery like a hall of mirrors, it brings together the key elements of the classic ozploitation film – choppers, fast cars, motorcycles, daring physical feats and dramatic locations – and strips them of any cinematic logic or narrative to create a succession of experiments that play with point of view, audience perspective and the limits of speed.


    Centripetal Forces, 2011

    Centripetal Forces (2011) is an elaboration of Gladwell’s interest in the dynamics and composition of the spinning figure, first seen in the single channel Pataphysical Man (2005). The central image of Pataphysical Man is a break dancer spinning on his head with arms outstretched. This is a visual reference to da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’ and Le Corbusier’s ‘Modulor’, while the work’s title nods to both a 1984 painting by Imants Tillers of the same name and to French writer Alfred Jarry’s pataphysics: ‘the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments’. Da Vinci’s and Le Corbusier’s perfect symmetry meets speed and perceptual instability. The spinning action sits perfectly within this mysterious juxtaposition, a movement of extreme effort and perpetual motion that fails to gain any actual progression through space. The act of spinning poses questions about point of view and vision: can the performer see everything, a perfect 360 degree cyclorama, or does the spinning create an abstracted blur of movement? Is the object still or in motion?


    Sagittarius/Domain + Prelude, 2011

    Sagittarius/Domain sits in an enclosed room, two screens facing each other on opposite walls. In both, a lone figure tracked from behind – the camera employing a classical point of view, mimicking the work of Caspar David Friedrich – descends into a subterranean passageway. For the viewer these figures act like avatars, our perspective being theirs, one moment behind. 


    Track and Trials, 2011

    The two channel installation Trials and Track sets up a relationship between two opposing screens. One features footage of track riding under the Sydney Harbour Bridge (track riding is a fixed, single gear, break-less style of riding that was developed in the velodrome but made popular by couriers in New York City in the late 1990s). The second features trials bike riding (a competitive off-road, all-terrain practice that also uses fixed gear bicycles) on a rocky ocean foreshore.


    Endoscopic Vanitas (No Veins Version), 2011

    Endoscopic Vanitas (No Veins Version), a reworking of a past work, originally exhibited in 2009 at the Venice Biennale, sits in an enclosed space at the end of the exhibition. In the centre of the room a single human skull hangs suspended by a metal frame. An endoscopic camera moves inside the skull, a second explores its exterior. The images captured by the two cameras are projected onto separate screens, the first a mist screen that sits at the entrance to the room creating a permeable barrier to the cavernous space behind, the second a simple LCD screen inside the room. These images appear abstract, suggestive, lunar. Gladwell is playing with the time-honoured trope of the momento mori, as well as with Plato’s ‘allegory of the cave’. 

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