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Stephanie Vegh
Jenn E. Norton at the Art Gallery of Hamilton
August 19, 2014

In stark contrast to the light-soaked canvases dominating the Art Gallery of Hamilton for its sprawling retrospective of William Blair Bruce, entering the underworld of Jenn E. Norton’s latest video installations is immediately disorienting. Hers is a thick darkness that demands a wary pause before daring to wade any deeper into the sway of videos sweeping across walls and floors – dark and slick as eels gliding at askew angles that swell and recede in tidal waves.



Jenn E. Norton, Doldrums

This seasickness is cultivated in every visual cue of Precipice, from the curved seashell of screens that come to life with a swimmer’s progress through a mass of floating paper to the outer circle’s depiction of an abandoned archive further estranged by a skin of water that captures the space, in the act of sinking, of Atlantis rising. This illusion of drowning is even more acute in Doldrums, which benefits from a fully immersive claim on its smaller space. Projections into mirrors throw undulating waves across the floor while capturing piercing points of light from the projectors that both blind the viewer and conspire with the video’s journey through an incandescent light bulb that compacts darkness to a diamond of moonlight over water – yet another uncanny yet pleasing parallel to the Blair Bruce paintings in the neighbouring gallery.

Norton’s haunting, arresting vistas of overwhelming information are broken only by the unfortunate grinding noise of Norton’s third installation in the neighbouring gallery. Doline holds its thematic own with spinning towers of storage devices for obsolete media where the fake-wood-patterned banker’s boxes reinforce this contemplation of dead tree media. Despite their kinetic consistency, these corkscrewing objects drive their message hard into the concrete floor rather than letting it float like the best of Norton’s work: suspended, ambiguous, and free.


Art Gallery of Hamilton: http://www.artgalleryofhamilton.com/
Jenn E. Norton: Dredging a Wake continues until January 4.


Stephanie Vegh is a Hamilton-based visual artist and writer whose criticism has appeared in Scotland's Map Magazine, Canadian Art, C Magazine, and Hamilton Arts & Letters, in addition to her own blog. Her drawings and installations have shown most recently at the upArt Contemporary Art Fair and Nathaniel Hughson Gallery in Hamilton. She is the Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council and a member of the Curatorial Committee for Hamilton's annual Supercrawl. She is also Akimblog's Hamilton correspondent and can be followed @Stephanie_Vegh on Twitter.

 

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