by Roger Palmer
Ian de Gruchy's fascination with architectural textures and patterns, the camera and electronic programming...visitors to Ian de Gruchy's Camera became prisoners of his installed performance. Once inside the darkened gallery and with the programme running, multiple patterns of merging and running graphic images projected on three walls, any movement by the audience became another shadow, or shadows on the walls, compelling visitors' unmoving attention to the images around them. A neat trick and one which emphasized the tenuous relationshlip which often exists between the artist, the work and the artist's public. Whatever else was felt by his audience, visitors to this installation were prisoners of the work for the duration of the programme.
The images themselves, bold architectural patterns, merged and flowed across the walls in historic patterns of textures and shapes, from primeval rocks to the more familiar patterns of steel and concrete. The environments created on walls flowed into and filled the gallery space.
From time to time a human figure could be seen, but always turning away from the audience or disappearing into the background. A woman wearing a bright yellow plastic raincoat came and went in the viewers' consciousness, but never remained long enough to be known. The bright yellow coat set against the grey architectural landscape was like a sixties beacon in the images. The splash of colour which consistently draws the viewer into the work, but in de Gruchy's case, without purpose.
If there was a narrative to Ian de Gruchy's work, it was obscure. Although he no doubt was quite clear in his mind about his story and the purpose in his work. Like all such exhibitions the clues to knowing the work are found in the accompanying literature. And given the graphic nature of the installation, there was of course a great deal of literature.
In de Gruchy's words 'Camera is an interplay of images involving the spectator where the image has a subjective/objective interplay. The installation employs an optical device (projectors) in a light proof room, where the walls are exposed to complex juxtapositions and super impositions of image and where the shadows of the viewers create a secondary play held within the slide play.
With the exception of a reference to projectors, the obvious use of cameras, and of course an ubiquitous sound track, strange grunts and groans and other off key notes, there is little in the text to explain the work. There is however, a continuing allusion to machines as art, and whatever one might think of such a proposal, the machine is the essential means of New Age art.
Ian de Gruchy comes from a theatrical background, where he has been creating projected sets. His Camera installation is therefore theatrical in concept and has little to do with art on walls in a formal museum sense. The question posed for visitors to this kind of exhibition is one of the ephemeral and theatrical being as
satisfying as concepts of great art, permanently fixed to a museum or sitting room wall. Perhaps the entire nature of New Age art is found in its ephemeral and transitional qualities. In other words, nothing is permanent and all pleasures are by the very nature of life itself, fragmentary and transitional.
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