“People have a very concrete idea of the way the world moves and flows,” says artist Daniel Crooks. “Maybe I’ve read too much sci-fi, but we’ve evolved this very limited way of interpreting time and movement.”
The New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist is known for his technically precise, hypnotic video work; he won the prestigious $100,000 Ian Potter moving image commission from ACMI in 2014 and has appeared in major exhibitions around the country, including Melbourne Now. You might have seen Phantom Ride at ACMI − footage of a bunch of disused train tracks in country Victoria and New South Wales that he cut into a unified whole − last year.
His new show, Parabolic, at Anna Schwarz Gallery, is about subverting our simplistic, linear approach to time. At the risk of sounding like a mathematics lecture, Crooks stretches the first three dimensions (width, height and depth) to abstraction through manipulation of the fourth (time).
The technical side of it is complicated but in layperson’s terms, Crooks explains he’s putting time on its side and looking at it from a different angle.
His method is essentially based on slit-scan photography (a bit of visual trickery used to psychedelic effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Doctor Who), but it’s far more involved and advanced than that.
“They’re not tricks,” he says. “It’s not a Photoshop filter, or CGI or anything − I only use what’s there in the real world. I’m just looking at time differently. I’m not cutting anything out, or editing. It’s literally a slice of time. An alternate view of how time unfolds.”
There are four new works on show. Two are static shots of revolving doors in Bourke Street office complexes.
“I’ve been looking at revolving doors around town and found them hypnotic,” says Crooks.
Here, revolving doors are pulled vertically to the sky. Time is sucked upwards, and people are twisted into a corkscrew. If you didn’t know what it was, or what Crooks does, you’d think it was an abstract work of shapes and lines.
The other two videos were shot on the streets of Hong Kong. For these Crooks has separated the moving elements (people) from the static (the streets and buildings). Passersby seem like ghosts, rippling into existence from a central point, like a pebble has been dropped into time itself.
“We're locked in four dimensions,” says Crooks. “When I’m making these it's almost on the tip of my brain, I can almost, almost, imagine a fifth.”
Daniel Crooks: Parabolic runs from February 11 to April 1 at Anna Schwarz Gallery.