Review: Young artists respond to new media

visual art “ID 2012 Digital Portrait Award” Works by Laura Moore, Aaron James McGarry, Nina Mulhall, Clare Thackway and Bridget Walker At the National Portrait Gallery. Reviewed by Johnny Milner

THROUGHOUT history artists have often explored the possibilities of new forms of technology.

In the 21st century this continues to be the case as the transition from analogue to digital imaging has revolutionised the genre of portraiture – enabling new forms of representation and audience interaction.

Currently showcasing at the NPG is the final selection from the inaugural “ID Portraiture Award” – an initiative aimed at young Australian artists.

Simply and elegantly organised, the exhibit comprises five illuminated screen-based works. The portrait “Animation One” (pictured) – a silent stop-motion piece by Laura Moore – picked up the $10,000 (courtesy of Macquarie Group Foundation) prize. In a highly emotive expression of self-representation this work features a sequence of stilted images of the artist dressed in school uniform, and documents the emotional reaction she has while recalling the miserable moments of her school days.

Positioned directly opposite are the four runners-up, all evenly spaced and sized, and all of which include a sonic element.

The video work “You Came Out of Me” utilises raw, loosely constructed footage to profile four different teenage subjects and explores, in true psychoanalytical fashion, the relationship between mother and child. Performing to the camera the subjects are asked to mimic the mannerisms, quirks and habits of their mothers.

Interestingly, the moments where the subjects are acting the least – those moments of contemplation – are by far the most affecting and revealing.

In stark contrast, the highly-stylised “Fragility My Freedom” employs various forms of audio-visual symbolism and manipulation as a sort of therapy to self discovery, with a specific focus on the transition of teenage angst into gay adulthood.

Through additional media, such as sound, montage and digital effects “ID 2012” encapsulates the spatio-temporal possibilities and trends in contemporary portraiture. Poignant, exposing and sensitively realised, this exhibit will certainly resonate with a wide range of audiences.

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