I don’t get video art. You walk into a dark room and the 4 walls each feature a big screen showing some video, usually slow motion, and you watch it while listening to the soundtrack, usually a slightly menacing drone with sound effects. You’re meant to think, feel or experience something. I never know what that something is. I keep trying to understand the point of video art but have never succeeded.
In the case of Flatlands (on until 26 October) by filmmaker Emma Freeman, currently playing at Gorker gallery, the soundtrack features drone plus half audible voices and birds and insects twittering in the background. The video features a BMX stunt rider, people jumping, a baby and people moving in to kiss each other. I can see it and hear it but I don’t get it. It doesn’t move me, and it doesn’t engage me the way Visual Noise did recently.
You can watch the video content used in the work on Freeman’s profile at the Guild of Commercial Filmmakers site. It’s an incoherent site that contains showreels from various filmmakers but no explanation of what the organisation does, who it represents or its role in the media industry. I find it ironic when I hear filmmakers describe themselves as great storytellers because at the same time they often appear to be poor communicators.
The Gorker crew did their usual excellent job in marketing the launch on 9 October. From what I have observed, they manage to draw audiences to their opening nights better than any other gallery in Fitzroy. The gallery space was divided to create the dark video room while maintaining some space on the Gore St side for a bar area (above), which also featured a copy of the BMX video on its wall.
I’m glad I went because of the vibe on the street. I sat on the curb with another man and we chatted briefly, and watched as a woman in ridiculously impractical and seemingly uncomfortable shoes hobbled across the road and got into a taxi. A shared smile said ‘you’d never see a man doing anything that daft’. Due to daylight saving it was still light outside, and a large crowd lingered on the footpath enjoying their beers and the art of a balmy evening.