Issue 10: Winter 2012
July 27th - November 4th
Motion Capture, curated by Ed Krcma and Matt Packer, examines the relationship between drawing and moving image. It does a good job of bringing together diverse, sometimes unexpected approaches to the subject. The moving image as requiring a surface, and the drawing desiring latent or actual movement and time are their two sometimes overlapping points of intersection, the exhibition seems to tell us. And the desire to somehow use the one as a wish- or, sometimes, whim- fulfilling device is a frequent feature.
A graceful series of drawings by Henri Matisse is present by virtue of the artist's claim that he saw them as ‘cinema', as informed by the language of the moving image. At the opposite extreme, Tacita Dean's stark 16mm work Still Life stares at marked work surfaces in Giorgio Morandi's studio, a film holding its breath in its longing for stillness. Dennis Oppenheim's video Two Stage Transfer Drawing documents Oppenheim and his son drawing each onto the other's back, and the other drawing what they feel is being drawn on them on a white surface in front of them. A drawing projected through a body. Pierre Bismuth's itchy fingers allow his pen to follow the hand movements of actresses and a thinker, inscribing their motion on the surface of the screen in white lines and thus reinforcing this surface. Susan Morris gets behind the screen, as it were, and projects abstract line patterns from beyond it that trace her movements in a motion capture studio. Ailbhe Ni Bhriain's eerie introduction of movement into still images in her haunting videos is just enough to dissolve their fixity, to allow the ghost of time to reveal itself. William Kentridge and Alice Maher create animated sequences from their drawings, the former to illustrate that history is never truly erased, and the latter to follow a beautiful and stirring process of psychosexual mutation.
Quite a catalogue of formal leaps and longings, projections and speculations. And, yet, what is surprisingly absent is the most obvious and literal coming together of drawing and moving image: hand drawn, hand painted or hand scratched film, film without camera. The surface of celluloid is actually referenced, albeit in rather tedious form, in Brian Fay's video of the dust and scratches that have accumulated on an old print of a Buster Keaton film. But maybe this digital mediation is somehow necessary in the context of a show that compiles a series of flirtations in which drawing and moving image eye up the possibilities in each other, even dream of each other, but refrain from a relationship as straightforward and uncomplicated as someone like Len Lye might provide. The enjoyment of this approach to the possibilities of ‘motion capture' is above all encapsulated by Duncan Campbell's wonderful 16mm film Sigmar, a droll homage to Sigmar Polke, in which the compulsion and frustration of making marks and joining dots as an ever-moving process that never resolves itself into any definitive image is set in motion.
-Maximilian Le Cain