Natasha Matila-Smith – 14 August, 2015
Much like the prophecy implied within 'White Noise', the large scale projection 'Brisbane Hail Storm' (2015) becomes the dominant drawcard so that the other works become peripheral. Due to its scale and physical presence, it is difficult to ignore. The video work depicts a blurry and undecipherable storm, only recognisable from the equally grainy sound work. It is not until the camera zooms out that you realise what you are viewing is a storm within a laptop screen in an apartment.
All At Once
22 May - 3 July 2015
At the centre of many an artist’s practice is an attempt to embody physical, mental and emotional experience. The ability to manipulate time becomes an almost Frankensteinian obsession, with many perpetually raising dialogues that either question or embrace the retention of experience. The results often promise an ‘immersive space’. Louise Bennett‘s solo exhibition, All At Once, at MAAP, appears more like a series of experiments, genuinely investigating how we process information, and more specifically, how we process experience.
In her online essay, Velocity of Information, Matilda Fraser discusses the anxious reader, suggesting they are confused and pressured. The constant influx of information provided by digital communications produces a reader who scans and speed-reads, missing potentially essential material.
Bennett’s video White Noise (2015) plays on this idea - introducing a reader who is so hypnotised by the digital that they neglect the peripheral. Within a small media device is the perspective of a person walking through the city holding a box. Consistently present throughout the work is an autonomous human hand, representing not only this internal tension but also grounding the video, reminding us of the constant human connection.
The box is the size of a mobile phone, or similar handheld device, with digital noise taking place within. Throughout the video’s duration, it is hard to look away. Such is our obsession with the digital that we miss the natural, seemingly banal, events occurring outside it. Even whilst purposefully trying to concentrate outside of the box, we are still preoccupied with consciously trying to avoid it.
Perhaps the most relevant connection to Fraser‘s piece is the title of the exhibition, All At Once, suggesting a wave of incoming data that isn’t affiliated with the natural ability to receive information.
Within All At Once, and much like the prophecy implied within White Noise, the large scale projection Brisbane Hail Storm (2015) becomes the dominant drawcard so that the other works become peripheral. Due to its scale and physical presence, it is difficult to ignore. The video work depicts a blurry and undecipherable storm, only recognisable from the equally grainy sound work. It is not until the camera zooms out that you realise what you are viewing is a storm within a laptop screen in an apartment. This revelation is not all that deceptive and points to the uncomfortable fact that much of what we experience is second-hand through a digital medium. This is not necessarily criticised, but presented as a matter of fact.
Plasticine Landscape (2015) is somewhat jarring because it is the only non-digital work, a framed plasticine landscape located within the MAAP carpark. A car faces the painting, so as to give the sense of driving through the depicted vista. ‘Please remember me’, handwritten on an accompanying piece of paper, is the sweet and ill-fated sentiment that overarches the show. This is probably the hardest work of the lot to conceptually locate, for it is quieter than the others but perhaps the most significant in its silent plight. It is in this work that Bennett has most physically re-enacted the experience, quite literally moulding the landscape with her hands.
In All At Once, the understanding of digitally rendered experience is mediated through the physical manifestation of the peripheral and disembodied. Once a memory is palpable, it becomes something you can hold on to. Ironically, the palpable is no longer its former incarnation. Bennett’s works are more indicative of the likely scenario that we are creating new dimensions of experience with each nostalgic attempt to re-access the past. All at once, the digital age has produced both a multitude of interruptions to the natural, while at the same time, raising a relevant process for remembrance now integral to our social history.
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