the containers

The Containers, 2021

David Keating, The Containers, 2021, 4K video, sound, 4:15

The Containers, 2021 (4K video, sound, 4:15) is a video in which the drawing process has been digitally recorded and used as the basis for an absurd narrative. The work refers to a practice called speed painting, popular among amateur digital artists, who share and critique videos of their drawing processes in online communities. Keating juxtaposes this emerging tradition with a sci­en­tif­ic instructional format, this involves a scripted, digitally produced voice accompanying the unfolding process of drawings been made ‘on screen’ within a cinematic flow of time. 

Rather than the usual utilitarian graphics imbued with the authority that we would expect from an scientifically informative video, the containers exposes the frailty of decision making within drawing. Mistakes and approximations become a part of the process, which reveals a personal struggle with the meaning and agency of drawing, whose flaws are integral to its validity. The work opens up for critique the conflict within drawing practice of exposing oneself – revealing thoughts, ideas and feelings – against the constraints of the medium which typically call for a studied ‘mastery’ of technique; which may ironically impede the possibility of expression. 

Focusing on the theme of containers, of which a house, paintings, a museum, and a television are used as examples, Keating’s video muses on the inescapability of the formal, physical and conceptual boundaries that govern expression. Citing Romanian playwright, Eugène Ionesco’s imagery and use of gradually devolving aimless speech in works such as Amédée, or How to Get Rid of It, 1954 and Guy de Cointet’s theatrical pieces as prime influences, in the containers, the artist explores the resonation between the simultaneous unfolding of drawing and speech. Riddled with non- sequiturs, the reductive speech of the narrator both over-forcefully describes the obvious and renders the interpretation of the scenarios presented tantalisingly plausible but ultimately absurd.

exhibited: Chauffeur, Sydney, 2021 – digital catalogue
Conners Conners, Melbourne, 2021