Disc 002 on Sydney’s Demux label, Peter Newman’s DVD debut covers an hourlong documentation of his audiovisual practice from 2003-2007. Cutely for a DVD, it’s tracklisting offers both a Side A and a side B, each covering material from Newman’s exhibitions, performances and installations. From the get-go we’re left swimming in abstract textures, Newman’s style reminiscent of the flickery film pioneers such as Stan Brakage or Len Lye ( a New Zealander with a major retrospective including kinetic sculptures coming up at ACMI next year ). Whereas these filmmakers sought to produce cinema by directly interacting with the actual material of film – by scratching and painting on it, by applying processes of decay and physical mutation to it – Newman explores some of what is inherent to digital cinema – the blending modes available for overlapping pixels, the fuzziness and grain found with various compression methods, the masking and keying out of colours, the blending of layers. While youtube demonstrates that the moving image doesn’t have to have glossy high resolution to be compelling, Newman reminds us that the types of compression artefacts usually associated with youtube, and typical of digital video, can also be played with and celebrated, a textural avenue of exploration in themselves.
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