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 Title: Cont Ship #2

 Year: 2007

 Medium: video and sound

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 >> Click to read biography on Clinton Watkins

Cont Ship #2, installation view at ARTSPACE 2007

In Watkins’s Cont Ship #2 you see a ship slide in and out of shot, right to left. It slides from wall to wall, corner to corner at each end of the space. The image is doubled, not mirrored; the mass continuously slips through the wall at both ends of the space. You, the viewer, stand in-between – in the empty hull of the gallery space – you and the accompanying soundtrack. The camera does not shift from its steady tripod-mounted gaze, however the soundtrack does. The soundtrack ebbs and flows. It comes and goes, much like you.

Ships are nomadic wanderers through time, sliding from time zone to time zone as they cross the ocean. Our way of life is absolutely dependent on the sea and the ships it bears. Globalisation, in spite of all its clever know-how, still yields to the physical reality of the sea. The ship that slips by in Cont Ship #2 is for leisure, the leisure class: 151,000 tons of floating real estate. It’s a surface of colour too, paint actually, made flat by the digitisation of its 345-meter long bulk.

Rather than fetishise the technical capacities of the moving image and explain away a love for the medium, the shot is direct, neat, ship-shape. It’s hard to put into words - something to do with the irreducibility of shots to words. Watkins achieves a kind of cinematic hypnosis, but really it’s more like a daydream; these images don’t quite duplicate reality. The coming and going of the soundtrack disrupts the presence of the ship and drives it forward – delay, reverb and repetition propel it through the water now.

- Dane Mitchell