290°: DJCAD Degree Show 2013
18 May 2013 - 26 May 2013
Previously isolated on floor 3 of the Matthew Building, the new entrance to DJCAD now makes Time Based Art the first studio reached while exploring this year’s degree show. The show is small – eleven pieces, and a projector showcasing work from other years. Despite its small size, however, there is a broad range of media in use and such varied subjects covered that there will doubtless be something that appeals to everyone. In fact, the most consistent aspect of the show is the sound – several different audio pieces overlap and play off one another, and this ominous soundtrack permeates the whole studio. However, the effect is not so pronounced as to prevent enjoyment of those pieces never intended to be accompanied by However, the effect is not so pronounced as to prevent enjoyment of those pieces without audio, and the short films present in the show have headphones to protect their soundtracks.
In the case of Fergus Cruickshank’s Good Vibrations, which puts music to great use and is described by the artist as a “short, quirky rom-com”, this is particularly fortunate. Good Vibrations is presented as a partial reconstruction of its “film” set and features tea, drugs, buses and less-than-perfect flatmates. Such topics could potentially be too serious for the genre or they might become farcical, but the film manages to take a light-hearted yet matter-of-fact approach which saves it from this potential pitfall.
Pawel Grzyb’s The Untold Story, while not a dark film, is by no means light-hearted. It is a documentary of the artist’s journey to Poland to piece together the story of his grandfather’s life from records found in Auschwitz and from the few documents that his family has in their possession.
The truth is never fully uncovered, and questions are left unanswered, but nevertheless the film does not feel incomplete. The soundtrack is simple, with occasional fragments of music to develop the setting, but perhaps its best feature is the narration. This is not a film about concentration camps and the horrors of war but, rather, of the life and character of a man who survived them. Grzyb’s narration draws the viewer into the search, and the elegance of the film’s production is entrancing.
Equally elegant and enchanting are the drawings of Ysabelle Durant, her precise line drawings grabbing the eye and creating the illusion of depth and movement. Three large drawings are presented to the passer-by, drawing visitors into small room containing projections and a soundscape to elicit some of the chaos, confusion and intangibility of dreams. Durant’s work is concerned with the darker side of dreaming; among the themes she explore are nightmares and sleep paralysis.
Leaving that studio room and descending a staircase, the formality of the gallery space is briefly abandoned at a sign asking visitors to remove their shoes. Calum Crotch’s work seems to be about exploring light as a mediumand using it to create a shared social space, and, if nothing else, this introduction prepares his visitors for the change of attitude necessary to enjoy the piece. Entering the space, the uneasy sounds of the main room fade. Projections and coloured lights give the room a party-like feeling, emphasised by the colourful cloth draped from the ceiling. A large canvas dome is suspended over a memory-foam floor covered with pillows, and visitors are encouraged to lie under the dome and watch the changing lights create shapes on the inside, or to play with one of the instruments sitting nearby.
With the combination of serious and playful themes, and the wide variety of media used, the Time Based Art degree show will contain something to appeal to all visitors. Despite the constant overlapping audio, which can detract from the experience, the show is still very enjoyable.