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TV Moore

Author 
Andrew Frost

TV Moore’s video work aspires to the condition of music with impressionistic, emotive and associative imagery accompanied by evocative soundtracks. Using song form as the basis of many of his works, Moore’s videos offer an alternative take on the relationship between music and image. An avowed experimentalist, the artist has utilised elements of video portraiture, documentary, theatre and opera. 

Early video works such as Urban Songs and Videos (1999) were a charmingly ad hoc series of musical collaborations that resulted in videos to accompany a series of songs. Rattle Snake Blues (1999) conflated elements of urban country and western music, synth pop and dance. Urban Army Man (2000) was a two screen video work of images of a man in full army costume walking down a busy street at night while carrying a large radio. Recorded using night vision mode on a low budget camera, Urban Army Man has the gentle suggestion of something ambiguous and uncertain, a mood that’s reinforced by an ambient guitar and vocal track. The Dead Zone (2003) developed this style from documentary to science fiction, showing a man running through the centre of the Sydney’s business district: on one screen he is running forwards in slow motion, on the other he is running backwards. In the single screen work Urban SOS (2003), the artist fires a signal flare into a brilliant blue sky. Stripped of context, the image feels celebratory and uplifting and concludes with the artist raising two clenched fists to the sky. These four videos presented the themes the artist would explore in greater depth in subsequent work. 

The Neddy Project (2001–2004), a ten screen installation, was the first of Moore’s large scale projects. Using images and themes derived from the stories of the bushranger Ned Kelly and the underworld gangster Neddy Smith, each screen presented a slowly evolving shot composed as mirror-like tableaux. While the images had the feel of history painting they were also modern versions of the iconic moments of the lives of the Neds — Kelly on horseback, in armor, at night in the countryside; Smith meeting the police in a car park. This sense of a staged, theatrical drama was reinforced by the conspicuous use of cardboard props.

Old Love Song: in death (2004) maintained the same sense of elegiac opera as The Neddy Project. With Moore as the only performer, the single-shot video is of a figure in a costume that is part merchant sailor, part Communard, looking straight to camera.

In a lilting voice, Moore sings unaccompanied Pie Jesu from the Latin Mass before segueing to a ballad by Almeda Riddle, a folk singer of the American South, then segueing back again. With the soft hum of traffic outside the studio on the soundtrack, Old Love Song: in death achieved a remarkable distillation of the contemporary and the archaic, evoking the ageless concerns of life and mortality while acknowledging the artifice of its own creation.  

Moore’s next series of videos alternated between grand projects and smaller, more intimate productions. Across the Universe (2005) recalled the productions of Robert Wilson, Bertolt Brecht or Samuel Beckett, and used an extended, minimal reworking of The Beatles titular song as its major leitmotif. In the video, a series of characters — a man in a tin hat, another with balloons, a banjo player, and a lost astronaut — move around an abstract stage setting declaiming fragmentary texts lifted from sources such as the film Blade Runner (1982). Apocatopia Vol. 1 (2006) significantly simplified production to a single musician set against a blue screen that alternately showed still images of burning cars, riots and crowds with blank blue backgrounds, footage shot in a supermarket and on a street corner. Using a variety of instruments such as banjo, fiddle and guitar, the performer sang a series of folk songs that ache for a return to a “promised land”. Exhibited on a series of monitors mounted atop wooden platforms, both Apocatopia Vol. 1 and Across The Universe reiterated Moore’s primary interests — the foregrounding of a humanist, inclusive and rough hewn aesthetic through the contemporary medium of video. 

Date 
b. 1974
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