What is that is so intoxicating about the image of the deserted city? It was what made the first half of 28 Days Later so powerful – the streets of London empty of people and traffic, the sun setting over darkened buildings, fluttering sheets of newspaper heralding the end of the world. The best moment in The Day After Tomorrow is the surreal image of a crewless oil tanker drifting along the streets of New York. There are plenty of other examples of these kinds of images – the funereal quiet of San Francisco in On The Beach and again in The Omega Man; Tom Cruise agog at the sight of an empty metropolis in Vanilla Sky; the relic of a great city in the drowned (and then frozen solid) New York of A.I.; the baked desert London of The Day The World Caught Fire… and many, many more. As J.G. Ballard, that prince of the abandoned city put it, “fiction is a branch of neurology: the scenarios of nerve and blood vessel are the written mythologies of memory and desire.”
T.V. Moore’s installation at Roslyn Oxley conjours up just such a desire for the abandoned city. Called The Dead Zone, the two screen video is a migraine dream of a man running backwards in one screen, forwards in the other, but flip-flopped using video technology so the limbs are moving backwards instead of forwards and forwards instead of backwards. Trapped in a section of Sydney’s city streets, the horror stricken guy in the image is stuck in one of those dreams where his little feet are working real hard but he aint going nowhere.
With equal nods to Ballard in the images and to David Cronenbergin the title, the pun of could be that the Dead Zone is the central business district, but Moore avoids such a pointlessly obvious pun and imerses the viewer instead into something that’s completely captivating. Compared to The Neddy Project that was on at Artspace earlier this year, this is a concise and sharp looping work that lasts a mere 3.5 minutes. We said it last time and we’ll say it again, more TV Moore – (or less, if he persists in omitting our rave reviews from his CV!)