30 Mar 2017 to 9 Apr 2017
Occasionally I stand with one artwork for fifteen minutes. The work Booksmart by Josh Owen at Canberra Contemporary Art Space Manuka was a case in point.
There is a projection on the wall of spines of Encyclopedias of various ages that are scrolling right.. There are small electric fans on the floor below the screen pointing in the direction of the viewer. There are 99 volumes of encyclopedias laid out open on the floor in rows. At the viewer’s feet there are fans pointing towards the screen. In the centre there is a data projector aimed at the screen and a speaker with an audio track playing.
As you stand there the fans blow the pages back and forth in unpredictable ways but the weighty tomes never move themselves. The sound track is a definition of encyclopedia and other linked material spoken in a delightfully “Hal” like voice. Two things happen over time. The scrolling on the screen gradually speeds up until the images on the screen become an indistinguishable blur and the delightful soundtrack also speeds up until it also becomes an incomprehensible babble.
Josh was in the gallery and it was great to be able to discuss the layers of comment and insight this work gives to modern knowledge access and transfer. I love the work – it is a great contemplative device and I have discussed it with several people in the week since I saw it.