Time and Motion study at the City Art Gallery, Turner’s tumultuous watercolours, Georgian

photographs and the Barbizon four.


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Rattle and Roll

Hilary Robinson previews a moving experience at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

Time and motion studies have revealed that the average length of time spent actively looking at a painting or object in a gallery is under ten seconds. Other surveys show that for a majority of people the atmosphere of a gallery reminds them closely of that of a church. Many artists, and some galleries, have explored ways ofboth breaking the respectful silence, with its overtones ofspecialised knowledge, and also of actively engaging the viewer, disrupting the usually passive nature of the exchange between the art object and its audience. On January 17 Edinburgh’s City Art Centre will shed its often staid atmosphere and open its doors to Time and Motion, an exhibition of kinetic art works, where all the work employs the fourth dimension, time, through using light, sound and/or physical movement. It promises to be one of the most enjoyable exhibitions anywhere this year, though shamefully it has been cut to four weeks rather than six, to make way for a three-month show of


The seven artists (two working together) are all young (in art-world speak. under 40) though most have shown their work internationally. Between them they come from four different countries. Peter Appleton, John White and Benedict Whybrow are British. Appleton often uses wind in his work to make sounds. l-lis Chinese Wind Piano for Mr Davies involves tubular bells and a fan; in the Water Piano; tubular bells are suspended in water which is aerated. The rising bubbles hitting the bells produce a noise which is then amplified. White is making ice machines for the show not ice-producing machines. but of ice cogs and wheels, which will function in the mornings but will daily self-destruct into pools of water to be re-frozen overnight. Another piece. But Soft. What Lout Through Yonder Window Breaks? gently satirises the lager lout. with a swaying fat baroque cherub with foghorn belches.

The elegant designs of Benedict Whybrow‘s constructions look organic. and reflect his concern with rapidly changing inner cities and the developments that bring new people into such areas while driving out those who used to live there. He trained as an engineer. and now subverts that discipline with machines that are involved in non-productive. futile movement. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. for instance, continually cancels itselfout.

Sokari Douglas Camp refers to her home village of Buguma, Nigeria. in her work. which explores the conflict between being brought up in an environment where the making ofobjects was a religious act and going to college and now living in secular, cynical London. Areas of taboo interest her as a Kalabri woman certain

activities are forbidden. like touching the hats of masquerade performers, and looking at shrines. As an artist in Britain she will not only look and see, but also create. with humour. sympathy and respect. The show will include a palm tree and figure which shake and rattle.

Munich-born Stephan Huber had a swinging chandelier in the Reason and Emotion in Contemporary Art exhibition. In this show his work will be static. but will still utilise light. intending ironic comment on (ierman capitalism through the juxtapositions ofsignifiers of manual labour with those ofopulence wheelbarrows with wheels ofcut-glass. for instance.

The Way Things ()0. the film by Peter l9ischli and David Weiss. captivated audiences when it was shown last year at the Third liye (‘entre As the catalogue to the exhibition points out. l‘ischli and Wiess were born in Switzerland. the same country as Tinguely. one ofthe best know n

kinetic artists; perhaps Swiss artists. such as Klee.

have a propensity for the absurd that is a necessary antidote to an obedient. well-orde red. conservative society. The film charts a series ol chain-reactions involving tyres. paper cups. water. fire. cardboard tubes. often nail—bitineg near not happening. Lasting about 20 minutes. it‘s a superbly well made and funny film.

The whole show will be alarmingly unsettled. with noises. flashes and lurchings and. by all accounts. frequent break downs of sculptures unaccustomed to working all day. Both children and adults should love it -- (‘in A rt ( ’entre artist in residence. Wendy McMurdo. will be running exciting workshops for children; the rest of you will just have to take your friends.

Time and Motion is at the ( 'ity .-lrt ( Marc. [7 J (III—1 7 Feb.


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