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JH

When Artifice Creates Nature

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Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm Grant Stevens, The Waterfalls, 2016-18, archival ink on archival paper, ongoing series, each 825 x 550 mm

They look digitally enhanced but are not, while still confirming the generic qualities they are popularly known for—their reputations colouring their on site experience. They share multiple group characteristics, and their points of individuality the viewer has to walk back and forth to discover. Yet overall it is a sense of a community of images that dominates.

Auckland

 

Grant Stevens
The Mountain and the Waterfalls

 

1 September - 29 September 2018

The Mountain is the first thing you notice when you enter the space. It is like earlier Grant Stevens works that used clusters of words hovering in space—spatially positioned by computer—in that the lighting of its digitally constructed mountain peak on a big freestanding screen, the mountain’s weather conditions, and the time of sunlit day or moonlit night (things you notice as the ‘camera’ moves around it) are determined by random programming.

While you might miss the earlier humour of the emotionally evocative (appropriated) language and the silky eroticism of the speaking voices, this is an absorbing work with a different conceptual alignment. Words are still present: only this time they are your words (not his), in your thinking head (not on his screens or prints)—as you analyse the shifting vista.

The Waterfalls are lined up on the wall opposite the screen. They are images Stevens made by photographing spectacular waterfalls located in bush sites that are surrounded by lush vegetation and mossy rocks—popular with tourists and other photographers—that he found by Googling. He has trekked to each one and made his own ‘perfect’ romantic landscape, celebrating the sublime as typified by each cascading torrent and letting the descending water blur into milky strings by controlling the exposure time. They look digitally enhanced but are not, while still confirming the generic qualities they are popularly known for—their reputations colouring their on site experience. They share multiple group characteristics, and their points of individuality the viewer has to walk back and forth to discover. Yet overall it is a sense of a community of images that dominates. 

While The Waterfalls downplay individuality, emphasising group attributes, The Mountain spotlights the moment the viewer walks in the door and encounters the moving image on the screen—the randomly concocted qualities of light and weather affecting the digitally rendered peak at that specific time. Each brief time span has its own unusual properties, particular to that moment. There are many many computer generated variations, and no loop. The viewer stands in front and lets the image pan from right to left, revealing the changing swathes of orange coloured light on the rocky crag. Enjoying the special uniqueness of that instant, that is unlikely to be experienced again.

John Hurrell

 

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