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Revenge of the pendulum

05 Mar 2019

Revenge of the pendulum Image

Revenge of the pendulum

By Rhonda Dredge

It takes a brave performer to sit reading a book with her back turned towards a large pendulum that is swinging slowly her way.

Every now and then the performer has a chance to stand and control the pendulum’s action.

A circle is marked on the floor to guide her.

It wouldn’t take much effort, however, to increase the circumference and introduce an element of danger into the task.

What if she went too far and got knocked off her stool?

The question is by no means menial. Artistically speaking, there should always be an element of risk in a work, particularly when the goal is to create perpetual motion.

The pendulum is large and heavy and swings slowly. It could be read as a metaphor for the cyclical nature of art. Now it appears to be moving towards the human part of the equation but is it friendly?

Katie Lee, the designer of this little experiment, has a lot of fun trying to provoke the viewer into participating in her world of ropes, bricks, bars, tools, chalk boards and implements.

Is she saying that artistic work is a perpetual activity?

Sometimes performers enter the space at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery and do things with ropes. Other times the interest is in the relative weight of a brick and an iron bar. What is their point of equilibrium when suspended over a rafter?

Gravity is the ruling force in Lee’s little laboratory but humans may conquer it for a moment by causing friction, overcoming inertia, lifting and shifting things from one place to another.

Human activity is memorable and objects tend to lose their agency unless in motion but there might be potential for a little revenge.

This exhibition is the result of Lee’s PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts and it’s a pity that it lasted for just four days.

Lee says that in the West we tend to perceive the world as static and unchanging, rather than emergent and dynamic. No Single Thing challenges this perception.

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