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Federation Square, Melbourne

15 – 31 May 2008

The theme of the 2008 Next Wave Festival, ‘Closer Together’, refers to the way society is ― for the better or for the worse ― becoming increasingly connected by media and communication technologies. Sceptical of the acclaimed social achievements of new technologies, Boxcopy Contemporary Art Space, a Brisbane-based artist-run initiative, explores the futility of human activities, including art production and consumption, with a collection of works created by young and emerging Brisbane artists entitled Great Expectations. Part of the Next Wave MEMBRANE Project, Great Expectations draws attention to the parallels between our expectations of art and new technology to make the world a better place.

Daniel McKewen’s work entitled Explosive Revelations (2008) employs the device of the Hollywood-style explosion to expose the constructed and futile nature of the moving image. Pointless, impotent explosions bloom and fade, punctuating a non-existent narrative – they promise the spectacle of violence but destroy nothing and disappear without a trace. The video itself is sourced from a stock footage supplier that provides users with a selection of explosions that can be inserted into movies by masking out the background. McKewen does not use this footage as intended, leaving them instead as merely explosions erupting on top of a black background, fizzling out into non-existence.

Early machines such as the Commodore 64 were tape-based, and hence had their games distributed on ordinary cassettes (2008) is an art work created by Tim Kerr who does not shy away from confronting common expectations for art. For this work, the artist has carefully constructed from cardboard boxes the likeness of a pile of rubbish. The resemblance of this work to rubbish is so remarkable that it appears as though it is awaiting collection for recycling, or destined for the rubbish bin. Upon closer inspection, clues that suggest a careful and considered approach to the work become apparent. There is a sense of deliberateness in the way his boxes are fixed together, a sense of thoughtfulness in the arrangement and display.

To accompany this object, artist Tim Woodward has created Extra features (2008). Containing a similar sentiment to the extra features generously included on DVDs, Woodward created an audio accompaniment for this work in the form of a bonus commentary feature. Simply a labeled set of headphones hung next to the installation, the audio played through these headphones is something of a ‘walkthrough’ of Kerr’s pile. Often using audio to humorously intervene the everyday, Woodward’s so called “extra features” mimics the optimistic language of packaged entertainment, and as audio commentary, also ingenuously suggests additional assistance for viewer when appreciating the work of Kerr.

Whiteout (2008) is a video work that shows the artist, Channon Goodwin, repeatedly performing an activity to call attention to the pointlessness of the activity itself. In the video, the artist’s hand is shown vigorously shaking a snow-globe to retreat shortly after, letting the snow settle, and then repeating the process. The sound, a free WAV file sourced from the Internet, is of a blizzard/snow storm, although, like the snow globe, this sound is not at all convincing or realistic. A souvenir item, intended to take you back to a Skiing holiday or trip to the snow, the snow globe denotes another world far removed from the everyday. The act of shaking the globe functions more as a release of built-up frustrations with everyday life, an act of desperation to escape ordinary existence, than an action of little or no significance.

Using three raw timber packing pallets to form a triangular base over which ten sheets of ply are placed, Brisbane-based artist Joseph Briekers creates Spine (2008), an unusable spine ramp bike that is a full-scale version of a work that was previously made in miniature. Although resembling a makeshift BMX ramp, this work is not interactive, and as such, the expectations that visitors have both of the object and the artists invested effort are called to attention. This notion of futility will be exaggerated by the objects location, resulting in the ramp never actually being used for its intended purpose. A waste of time and energy also carries a certain existential weight, allowing Spine to be read both locally in its referencing of BMX culture, and universally as a monument to the theatre of human folly and frailty.