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28 June - 06 September 2014

Grant Stevens: What We Had Was Real

"Grant Stevens finds a kernel of truth within the saccharine cliché. His computer-generated videos seem, at once, laughably banal and profoundly true”, says curator Robert Leonard. “Stevens is exploring the way human psychology and communication are being shaped in the digital era.”

Stevens’ videos often feature texts sourced from TV, movies, and the Internet. He spatialises and animates words in mind-maps, cloudscapes and night skies, accompanied by generic mood muzak. His works recall screensavers and relaxation videos.

One of the highlights of the Brisbane artist’s show is Supermassive (2013), an immersive four-channel video installation. Four virtual cameras negotiate a cosmos consisting of clouds of words. Each cloud represents a category of thing, including self-affirmations, Indian-restaurant menu items, elements in the periodic table, and common prescription drugs. The work suggests, at once, a vast external world and a vast internal one. Critic David Pagel called the clusters, “linguistic galaxies in the mind’s eye”. Supermassive was exhibited at LA Louver last year.

“One of my favourite works is Crushing from 2009”, says Leonard. “It starts off by engaging my Schadenfreude. I’m laughing at generic accounts of bruised, battered and broken hearts. However, by the end, I’m ready to cut my wrists in sympathy. The work pulls you in, and it is about how it can pull you in. Stevens pares things back to reveal the machinery of emotional manipulation, but also the human psychology that is prepared to be manipulated.”

Visitor comment: "The upstairs projection exhibition is amazing. By far the most moving exhibition I have seen at City Gallery."

Grant Stevens is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland, and Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney.

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