Skip to content

Collection

John Gillies

(1960 – )

Sydney Front

(1986 – 1993)

Title
Techno/Dumb/Show
Place of origin
SydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Year
1991
Media categories
Time-based media, Video
Materials used
video, colour, black and white, stereo
Edition
un-editioned
Dimensions

dimensions variable

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
219.2013
Copyright
© John Gillies
Location
Not on display
Further information

John Gilles' 'Techno/Dumb/Show' is a pioneering example of 1990s video art in Australia. It was created over three months with the avant-garde theatre group The Sydney Front. Gillies encouraged the performers to self-direct their actions in front of the camera. This reversal of performer/viewer relationship references a critique of the camera and its perceived use for surveillance and control. In other ways this work draws on the tropes of cinema and theatre to question the nature of melodrama via non-narrative means.

Visually textured and multi-layered by the condensed use of montage, this work focuses on the improvisatory actions of its performers to explore the full spectrum of human emotion and bodily expression. Theatrical even histrionic gestures of the face, body and hands convey dismay, horror and an array of conflicting emotions. As Marie Craven wrote in 1996 "It's an aggressive piece that takes the repetition of gestures and details to ecstatic heights. The human actions captured in the piece - a man riding a bicycle, another conducting an orchestra, to name a couple - become amazing conductors of energy. The simple actions are performed with great gusto, an almost demented physicality. Gillies edits the piece in virtuosic style. It's a work-out, this video." (Marie Craven 'Mesh' issue #10, 1996)

Bibliography (11)

Ruark Lewis, Lino, 'John Gillies makes video', pg. 110-112, Surry Hills, 2006, 110 (colour illus., video still), 111 (colour illus., video still), 112 (colour illus., video still).

Adam Geczy, Art Monthly Australia, 'Video magic at the Performance Space', pg. 3-6, Acton, Oct 2004. review of John Gillies video work: 1982-2001

Blair French and Fiona Winning, John Gillies: video work 1982-2001, 'Introduction', pg. 1-2, Sydney, 2004, 1, 3, 6 (colour illus., video still), 7, 10, 13 (colour illus., video still).

Beth Jackson, RealTime, 'The performer and the video screen', pg. 34, Sydney, Jun 1997-Jul 1997, 34.

Charles Green, Peripheral vision: Contemporary Australian art 1970-94, Drummoyne, 1995.

Nicholas Zurbrugg, John Gillies: Armada video installation, 'John Gillies and the craft of video', pg. 3-7, Morningside, 1994, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Nicholas Zurbrugg, Electronic arts in Australia: Continuum: the Australian journal of media &​ culture, 'John Gillies', pg. 201-215, Perth, 1994, 201, 202 (illus., video still), 203, 204 (illus., video still), 205, 206, 207, 208, 210, 213, 215 (illus., video still). interview with artist

John Conomos, Strangers in paradise: contemporary Australian art to Korea, 'A video that questions the primacy of narrative', pg. 34, Sydney, 1992, 34.

Vicki Riley, Cantrills filmnotes, 'Elevations of trauma: Techno/Dumb/Show: John Gillies and the Sydney Front', pg. 33-37, Melbourne, Oct 1991, 33 (illus., video still).

Pam Hansford, Australian Perspecta 1991, 'John Gillies and the Sydney Front', pg. 42, Sydney, 1991, 42.

Margaret Brown, Videocamera and electronic imaging, 'Pushing video's horizons', pg. 26-29, Mona Vale, Sep 1991, 27, 28 (colour illus., video still). review of Australian Perspecta 1991