John Gillies

(Australia 1960 – )

Sydney Front

(Australia 1986 – 1993)


Not on display
Further information

John Gilles' 'Techno/Dumb/Show' is a pioneering example of 1990s video art in Australia. It was created over three months with the avant-garde theatre group The Sydney Front. Gillies encouraged the performers to self-direct their actions in front of the camera. This reversal of performer/viewer relationship references a critique of the camera and its perceived use for surveillance and control. In other ways this work draws on the tropes of cinema and theatre to question the nature of melodrama via non-narrative means.

Visually textured and multi-layered by the condensed use of montage, this work focuses on the improvisatory actions of its performers to explore the full spectrum of human emotion and bodily expression. Theatrical even histrionic gestures of the face, body and hands convey dismay, horror and an array of conflicting emotions. As Marie Craven wrote in 1996 "It's an aggressive piece that takes the repetition of gestures and details to ecstatic heights. The human actions captured in the piece - a man riding a bicycle, another conducting an orchestra, to name a couple - become amazing conductors of energy. The simple actions are performed with great gusto, an almost demented physicality. Gillies edits the piece in virtuosic style. It's a work-out, this video." (Marie Craven 'Mesh' issue #10, 1996)

Place of origin
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Time-based art, Installation
single channel digital video, colour, black and white, sound
duration: 00:20:49 min, aspect ratio: 16:9
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
© John Gillies