Friday, March 9, 2012

REVIEW: 'HNNGAHGGHH!'- Quenton Miller


Within the realm of art, there exists a phenomena within the practical making of work known as the 'happy accident'. Sometimes an accidental, unconscious or incidental addition to a work in progress can be aesthetically fortuitous, even though it may have been unseen and outside of what was planned and deliberate.


It could be said that Jackson Pollock (or any other gestural abstract expressionist, because what's the difference in their process, right?) implemented actions within his art making process for the happy accident to occur, because whilst he was selective of the type of paint, its colour and its general placement on the canvas, he relinquished some control over exactly where the paint would fall, especially when compared to a realist oil painter, as there is a large degree of variables as to how the paint might fall, splatter, splash and spill, however, mentioning this fact would be entirely obvious and boring.


There is an interesting friction between the planned and the accidental, and when they occur together or alongside each other, and not just within the act of art-making as this phenomena happens within the wilds of reality also, it allows us to see how fragile the best laid schemes are by their apparent ease to be unravelled by the arbitrary and unintentional1, or seemingly stranger, to be bettered.


Have you ever looked at a cloud and noticed how similar its shape was to a rabbit, or kitten (or any other fluffy animal, because what's the difference in their suggested cuddliness of form , right?) and wondered what the chances are that the accidental shape of a cloud which is informed by complex high-altitude wind currents, temperature, and percentage of water within the air could end up looking like a recognisable shape? Ever noticed how 'monkeys write' is an anagram of 'New York Times'?


Within our lives there is no end to the coincidental (between both the common and opposing), mixed messages, inconsistencies, and similarities; it is within this playground of interpretable data gathered from the world around him that Quenton Millers exhibition 'HNNGAHGGHH!' at Rear View Gallery gains its conceptual fuel.


Miller is obviously intrigued by interpretation, of both image and text and seeks out their limits through inquisitive play, not only in the presentation of his own work, but also by inviting the viewer to participate.


There is a liberal soaking of nonsense to help disparate ideas stick together, and thus become humorous, which can be seen in a drawing that suggests we charge rich mosquitoes when they drink our blood (its funny as insects have no concept of money and therefore cannot be rich or charged for there blood-letting, fool!).


Its an obvious nod to the Seussian School2 and the illogical, non-sequitur humour that is the favored comedic form by many performers (Lonely Island3, the Mighty Boosh4), and popular television (South Park5, Family Guy6, The Aquabats Super Show!7 and Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!8) but Miller steers clear of wanting all the attention for himself by getting others in on the fun and playing out open-ended performances like a party.


Millers work 'A Drawing Bar' exists as an arrangement of objects in the space (drawings, gin, tequila, and plastic shot glasses, placed on a bar stool), but also serves the function of a spatial anchor for people to stand around drinking, telling jokes and drawing during the opening of the exhibition. Just as his wall-work 'L O B S T E R S' isn't just simple giant aluminium letters nailed to the wall but a challenge and invitation for the viewer to contribute to a proposed aptly titled book in the making: 'ANAGRAMS OF LOBSTERS'.


The Lobster of course is an icon from art history and culture, its form being used and reused in work by Hieronymus Bosch, Lewis Carroll, Eugene Delacroix, Albrecht Druer, and eventually, Salvador Dali reappropriated the lobster as a kind of visual-anagram, when he used it as a rotary phone handset because of the similar size and shape that both the crustacean and the handset shared. It is this mastery of unrestrained and absurd thinking that allows Miller to meld almost opposing concepts together.


The cobbled-together nature of Millers jerry-rigged ideas, sometimes ill fitting, carries through in his construction and presentation: photos and images are simply taped to the wall and a display plinth appears to be hastily constructed from found timber; the appearance of these elements used to present the ideas in the work are not what's important. Similarly Millers drawings are rudimentary images that only exist as a vehicle for a punchline or 2D rendezvous point for ideas that would other wise never encounter each other, to meet in the physical realm, just as visitors to the exhibition might do at the 'Drawing Bar'.


Perfection and seriousness and stringent thinking are over-rated and boring, there is no room for exploration within their confines. Artists and musicians have been winging-it, thinking less and urging us to get stupid9 and even retarded10 for years, have a shot of tequila, do a drawing, drop noodles on avant garde Russian reproductions11, or whatever else it takes lose the inhibition, follow intuition and break from tradition12, and Miller, like many before him, is listening and preaching.


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1Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men (1937).

2Seuss, Theodor. Wrote imaginative and nonsensical children's books under the pen name Dr Seuss for which he is better known as (1904-1991).

3Lonely Island is a US comedy troupe comprising Akiva 'Kiv' Schaffer, Jorma 'Jorm' Taccone and David Andrew 'Andy' Samberg (2001).

4The Mighty Boosh is a UK comedy troupe featuring Jullian Barratt and Noel Fielding (1998).

5South Park is a US cartoon created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (1997).

6Family Guy is a US cartoon created by Seth MacFarlane (1999).

7The Aquabats Super Show! Is a US action-comedy live-action television series created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz based on the mythology of the Aquabats, a real Californian rock band.

8Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! Is a US comedy-sketch television series created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (2007).

9Madonna, Give It 2 Me, Hard Candy, (2008).

10The Black Eyed Peas, Lets get Retarded, Elephunk, (2003).

11Email from Quenton Miller (2012).

12The Black Eyed Peas, Lets get Retarded, Elephunk, (2003).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LINK: A to Z of Contemporary Art

Andrew Frost has a great article on the Sydney Morning Herald site. For a lot of people it'll be 'no new news' and if thats the case just read on and feel affirmed.