Melbourne-based artist Daniel Crooks premieres a new video on Cockatoo Island, Static No.12 (seek stillness in movement) (2009–10), which takes as its subject the slow and graceful movements of a man taking tai chi exercise in a Shanghai park.
Crooks’ study of this gentle martial art is a meditation on the movements themselves, as the sequence of tai chi forms appear and disappear in a molten assemblage of attenuated body parts. The body’s movement spreads horizontally across the frame and the viewer is astonishingly aware of the entire span of the practitioner’s compelling routine.
Practising across a range of media including digital video, photography and installation, Daniel Crooks’s complex and beautiful time structures reveal a sensibility seemingly at odds with the ordinariness of the subject matter. His digital images stretch and distort reality while questioning our perception of it
Crooks uses a complex range of techniques including stop-motion animation, time-lapse and precision camera motion control.
With these portraits I’m attempting to make large detailed images of people in their own surroundings, images of people very much in and of their time that are both intriguing and beautiful. As with a lot of my work the portraits also seek to render the experience of time in a more tangible material form, blurring the line between still and moving images and looking to new post-camera models of spatio temporal representation
ABC Arts Online
Daniel Crooks Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Daniel Crooks began his ongoing Time Slice project in 1999, exploring alternative models of spatio-temporal representation through the moving image. One of the main threads of this investigation is the formal treatment of time as a spatial dimension, as a tangible and malleable material.
Time Slice is a series of videos and digital prints. Thin slices are extracted from a moving image stream and then recombined using temporal and spatial displacement. This technique is applied to both still and moving images and, while conceptually similar, the visual outcomes are quite distinct: photographs that progress through time and videos of frozen moments that move.
Both trigger a perceptual shift in our viewing of the space/time continuum, graphically revealing the underlying rhythms and patterns of the physical world and tracing the rhythms of our navigation through it. Though inherently digital, the images have the most beautifully organic qualities: images that are at once aesthetically and intellectually intriguing.
By using machines to work outside of real time Crooks aims to expose new modes of perception, breaking down the traditional correlation between time and space to imagine new ways of seeing. Precision motion control combined with sophisticated digital processing provides the freedom to explore alternative spatio-temporal representations, isolating and exaggerating the interwoven physical variables that construct perspective and motion. Further blurring the line between discrete and continuous, the monocular nodal perspective of the conventional camera is also disassembled and reconfigured across time to form extended polycular images.
The relationship between the width of the slice, the angle of view and the temporal resolution of the video determines the ‘plane of cohesion’ that distance from the camera where objects join seamlessly acrossslices to create an undistorted image (a kind of spatio-temporal depth of field). Also, due to the extremely narrow angle of view of each slice, the reconstructed image becomes almost two-dimensional, and without perspective takes on the qualities of a flattened isometric or ‘polyocular’ projection.
Born in Hastings, New Zealand in 1973
He graduated from the Auckland Institute of Technology before moving to Australia to undertake postgraduate study at the Victorian College of the Arts.
He currently lives in Melbourne with his family and divides his time between art-making and his work as motion graphics designer at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image).
He has had solo exhibitions at Sherman Galleries Sydney, the Art Gallery of New South Wales Sydney, REMO in Osaka Japan, the International Festival of Digital Arts and Media in Sheffield, UK, the Centre for Contemporary Photography Melbourne, and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
He has received the Australia Council London Studio Residency in 2005, a Guest Residency at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam in 2004, and numerous awards including the City of Stuttgart Prize for Animation and a Dendy Australian Short Film Award, both in 1996.
His work has featured recently in magazines including Art and Australia and Artlink and he is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery.
In 2008, Crooks won the inaugural $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize – an award established by the philanthropic businessman to unite sport and art.
Static no.11 (man running) by New Zealand-born, Melbourne-resident artist Daniel Crooks, features his friend and sometime subject, champion sprinter and actor Christopher Brown in what must be one of the shortest award-winning roles ever filmed: four seconds of intensive running, filmed by a special 800-frames-a-second- camera at a Melbourne crash-testing facility and slowed down by 96 times to four-and-a-half minutes, designed, as Crooks says, to “open up that finishing-line moment”.
The director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Chris McAuliffe, said that he and his fellow judges were struck by the “visual, technical and historical complexity of the piece,” which creates “a lingering, poetic image of the body in motion. A moment in time has been extended in a meditation on the physical poetry of movement.”
A photo-finish, indeed, and the ideal metaphor for what has been for Daniel Crooks a series of eerie parallels between art and sport that began in earnest when he was invited to apply for the Sellers prize.
“It has been a serendipitous crossover and a crazy process,” he said yesterday. “I wanted to find a high-speed cam era capable of bio-mechanical analysis, and I wanted elite sports people. Then, I thought, wait a second: the Australian Institute of Sport has them all in the same room.” Crooks originally wanted to incorporate existing archival film, but it didn’t suit his purpose. “So I set about doing my own version,” he said. “I asked Christopher, who’s one of my oldest friends – we met at an athletics club when we were nine. He was the perfect combination of best friend, runner and professional actor. So he got on the treadmill … we had six goes and, of course, the last was the one.” Crooks’s work may concentrate on the finishing line, but it also takes a telescopic view of film in art and sport, particularly the motion-analysis of the 19th-century pioneers Etienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge and, indeed, the images suggested by the more contemporary photo-finish techniques. “The links are intrinsically tied into sport and physical activity,” he said.