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Watkins video and sound piece at The Film Archive

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Its mood alters from that of a rippling crest to that of something enraged, thunderously chaotic and swirling - and filling the whole wall.

CLINTON WATKINS

Avalanche

Essay by Matthew Crookes

10 December 2009 -27 February 2010

 

Clinton Watkins is known for his memerising and subtle video and sound work. My favourites are his slow moving, brightly coloured, container ships that slowly creep across the screen and a swinging lamp shade projected on a roof.

This work, seen next door to ARTSPACE, features a loop of found film of an avalanche. We see it barrelling horizontally across the face of a mountain like a delicate small wave approaching a beach, only to change direction when the mountain suddenly gets steeper. Then the motion becomes vertical, cacophonous and churning. Its mood alters from that of a rippling crest to that of something enraged, thunderously chaotic and swirling - and filling the whole wall.

At first ‘loop’ the only sound is a continuous rumble but gradually Watkins adds an electronic aural backdrop that gradually becomes more dominant. Spatially the ominous, grinding roar and ‘lyrical’ electronics seem distinct and separate, clearly defined and not interchangeable or blending.

The image is so hypnotic with its spectacularly terrifying but beautiful violence that added sound doesn’t seem necessary. Its cascading falling motion and billowing clouds of thrown up snow are so riveting that even with no sound at all you wouldn’t take your eyes off the projection wall. The mountain is transformed from a massive solid object specked with tiny fir trees to something liquid and flowing like the sea. Movement here becomes oddly abstract, while gravity seems to be approaching its most pure state - even simpler than falling rain - but thankfully so much rarer.

 

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