A Simple Idea Well Done

Art Life , Reviews May 27, 2004 No Comments

Next door to Boutwell Draper is GRANTPIRRIE and they have a show by Melbourne artist Patrick Pound. The show is called Soft- A Model Real World. Pound took close up pictures of images in newspapers, advertising supplements and real estate guides with a digital camera and took them without using a macro lens so everything is out of focus, but just enough in focus so you can make out what it is. Then he printed out each picture on A4 paper and put them up on the wall in a huge grid collage of images.

What strikes you when looking at the pictures is that you immediately try to figure out where the images came from. We thought that they might be from TV or captured from DVDs, but the collage is read instantly as media. Our exposure to media is so profound we know its look instinctually and react. There’s Michael Jackson. There’s those kids from Big Brother, that’s a building, here’s an aerial shot of a road, that’s that kid who was murdered. Like electronic media, your eye keeps flicking back and forth over the images trying to decipher them, creating little associative narratives in your mind. On the opposite wall are a series of larger works, single images, also out of focus, of bridges, faces and houses.

This is a simple but elegantly evocative idea – the lack of focus suggests all sorts of literal associations about the relationship between the cognitive function of recognizing an image and the image’s meaning, but at the same time the soft blur conjures up the very act of seeing, the physical process of understanding. Rods and cones! Rods and cones! This is exactly the same idea that John Beard tried in his show at Liverpool Street Gallery, but where Beard’s work was absurdly didactic and unsubtle, Pounds work manages to remain restrained and suggestive.

We know we’re fickle, at one moment demanding simplicity, the next expecting artists to be complex and profound, but Pound’s show is an example of how an artist can set the limit of an idea and express it well within both the form of the work and the depth of the associations. Yep, this is a great show, a simple idea done well…

Andrew Frost

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