Rebecca Baumann

An example of her work –New11 exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

Automated Colour Field 2011

100 flip clocks, laser-cut paper
duration 24 hour

This installation appeals to me on several levels. It is made of ordinary materials made extraordinary through creativity, juxtaposition and collaboration.

As a singular object, each flip clock could hold the viewer’s attention for a short time, but I found my interest waned while I waited for change.

Knowing it was inevitable; the static quickly became boring and my attention wandered to other, identical elements – identical, but different. Like humans, each is on an individual time schedule and each contains a unique colour sequence. By looking at the whole grid, the watching became interesting.

The colours revealed are from the same palette, but in a variety of shades. There is a wide range of colour pair combinations that could be displayed at a given time and Rebecca has spread the variation across the whole field.

I stood and scanned the colour field, excitement building as I sought patterns of colour arrangement and timing within the grid. I wondered how random the movements were, which colour would flip next and what colour would be revealed as it did.

The installation invites examination and interaction. I observed two girls examining the installation, likening it to a giant flattened Rubik’s cube. They selected a flip clock each; predicted then watched in anticipation, in a race to have their chosen clock flip first.

“Now!” said one, but it didn’t flip – then.

The other stated “I won’t move on until this one has changed.”

So we waited – me, too. I had selected a clock earlier, but wondered if I had misremembered where it was, as it still revealed the same colours – lemon/lemon. I would watch more closely. The static was no longer boring. In the company of others the individual had gained more meaning. With the addition of the elements of prediction, expectation and suspense, the viewer was hooked, like a reader invested in a gripping story. This artwork was exciting!

I kept my eyes on the pair of lemon colours, two down/ five across. The gentle flipping of the clocks was somewhat soothing. I was being mesmerised by soft sounds, slow and irregular like the fluttering turning of the pages of a book. Again I was reminded of time and the relativity of its passage. The girls’ clocks had already flipped and they had moved on. Mine was still on double lemon. Had I chosen a lemon?

How Rebecca’s work relates to my arts practice

The ACCA staff member at the installation said the colours flipped in one minute intervals. By this time it had been ten minutes. It must have been stuck; they would tell the curator. I smiled as I moved on. Trust me, who finds four leafed clover more often than most, to see the clock that paused. I was living my motto: seeking the exceptional camouflaged by the commonplace.

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