John Gerrard

This event has now finished. Until Mar 24 2010

Installation view, John Gerrard at Thomas Dane Gallery Installation view, John Gerrard at Thomas Dane Gallery

Time Out says  

Posted: Thu Feb 18 2010

There's something strangely eerie, even menacing, about Irish artist John Gerrard's film of an oil derrick pumping endlessly away in the middle of an American prairie. Partly, it's because of the atmosphere of quasi-religiosity - from the reverent silence that accompanies the projection, to the way the derrick is dominantly situated upon an elevated clearing. Also, there's the effect of the actual medium itself - a complex animation process known as Realtime 3D, involving detailed models and computer scans, which lends the work a febrile, otherworldly quality.

Yet above all, it's the curious, schizophrenic rhythm that makes the piece so unsettling: the jarring combination of the camera's relentless eagerness, perpetually circling around the pump, with the apparently contradictory slow-motion of the machinery itself. Like some awful temporal hallucination, the film seems to run simultaneously both too fast and too slow - that is, at speeds just beyond the ken of human apprehension.

Such deficiencies of humanity - in both senses of the word - are at the heart of a second film, 'Sow Farm (near Libbey, Oklahoma)'. Again, the location is the dusty desolation of the Great Plains, here rendered as a virtual no-man's-land, a digitized environment of absolutely flat horizons and endlessly receding powerlines. Again, the camera incessantly circles, though this time at a more sedate pace, tracing the outskirts of a vast agri-industrial complex whose austere prefabs contain, according to the accompanying literature, generations of battery pigs, their miserable lives maintained solely by computer systems. In such a context, Gerrard's own use of computerised structures starts to take on a profoundly chilling aspect, and seemingly offers a warning about the escalating dehumanization of our worldview.

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