Air bag, from the series The difference between the eternal and the infinite
South Africa, Australia
A glitch, a mess of pixels, a confused signal, an image that fractures. Gradually, we start to recognise things amongst the detritus of digital decomposition in Eliza Hutchison’s imagery. We forage for the familiar. A brick facade, a desert, rising sea levels and melting ice, a girl popping bubble gum, a smart phone, Putin. These images wink at us amid a field of abstraction. But even here – in the glitches – we find the resonance of the real. Though perhaps ‘find’ is the wrong word. How are we to know that the black and white static in one image is the surface of Halley’s Comet? Or that the purple and yellow blocks of another derive from the carpet of the US Congress? Here, images circulated again and again in the echo chamber of click-bait culture become alien and unrecognisable.
In Hutchison’s installation we feel the rush, the strobing pulse, of the present tense. Taken together, these images resemble a film in fast forward, driven to the point of decomposition. Little wonder, then, that the play bar at the bottom of a YouTube clip makes a sly cameo. In this remixed replay of recent history, one image fragment jumps out: the hand of a crash-test dummy. A surrogate body, a crash-test dummy is used to test technology that might harm us. It performs a choreography of catastrophe and absorbs shock, sustaining trauma over and over and over again. While inanimate, it is designed to ‘feel’ impact on our behalf.
As the world accelerates around us, as it hurtles towards any number of the potential calamities Hutchison coyly alludes to, how can we road-test what’s coming? Is there a crash-test dummy for contemporary life? Or are we left to our own devices?
122.9 x 84.6 cm image
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2019
Not on display
© Eliza Hutchison
Shown in 1 exhibition
The National 2019: New Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 29 Mar 2019–21 Jul 2019