Date: 28-Oct-2006 – 26-Nov-2006
Location: Contemporary Art Tasmania
Using plasticine, moss, cardboard, petrol and gunpowder as well as images of eerily familiar landscapes, Adam Cuthbert presents digital prints of constructed dioramas that depict contemporary and historical battle scenes. Meticulously assembled and then subjected to a process of ‘dirt bombing,’ these dioramas make up the mise en scene for the work. Such childish endeavours serve as a platform for a critique of the violence and hysteria present in our contemporary age of terror.
Whether Waterloo or Iraq are recalled, as viewers we are suspended in a manipulated moment of violence and engage with the thrill of what seems to be unfolding. Owing much to the construction of film and animation sets, the objects and scenes in Cuthbert’s works are built to be destroyed – they exist as support for the digital recording process. The exhibition outputs this laborious process wherein columns of marching soldiers, battleships under fire, regimented units of trucks, tanks and helicopters are variously laid waste. Violent blasts and dismembered corpses signal ultimate destruction.
In the catalogue essay, writer Seán Kelly observes, ‘DVDs of nothing other than bomb blasts are available in the markets in the Middle East, and they exist on a purely aesthetic level – war porn… The artist concedes that it is the catastrophic moment of a blast that actually makes landscape ‘interesting’.
Cuthbert’s art practice has consistently involved the development of sculptural models and over the past six years he has pursued his fascination with military systems, engineering and hardware.