Monthly Archives: December 2008

VOOM Portraits by Robert Wilson

Taking moving stills to new levels, Robert Wilson takes Bill Viola’s ultra slow movies, choreographing surreal and tacky moves by celebrities and animals alike, matching sound/music bites, to cheesy results. They resemble studio fashion photography, with emphasis on the subject, with it’s clear background, in fine drapery or flat colours.

The VOOM portraits are entertaining, for a while, and shouldn’t serve more than laughs and smiles. Compared with Chang Chien-Chi’s sombre “Doubleness”, showing in Exhibition Gallery 1, these feel like Haute Couture fashion advertisements or pull outs from Newsweek.
But if placed within a specific context, such as consumerism and popular culture (imagine these next to Warhol’s prints of Elvis or Marilyn Monroe), Robert Wilson’s work stand out as evidence of Super High Definition cameras and moving images, and artists’ desire to create desire and allure. Superficial as they are, they reveal our desire for glamour, ‘brand’ association in a consumption-based culture, as opposed to a production-based culture; we live to spend, more than we spend to live.

National Museum,
Exhibition Gallery 2, 30 Oct – 4 Jan, admission charges apply.
Work by Robert Wilson, at the Barbican Art Gallery (UK):
Liz Jobey, Photographer Robert Wilson: the edge of Galmour, Guardian website, accessed Dec 5, 2008, (