Select Amount

Daniel Crooks: The Subtle Knife

Daniel Crooks
The Subtle Knife, 2016
Digital video 1080p 24, colour, stereo, 8:23 mins © Daniel Crooks
Image courtesy of the artist & Anna Schwartz Gallery

In The Sub­tle Knife, Daniel Crooks took us on a con­tem­pla­tive jour­ney through time and space. Mov­ing slow­ly down a nev­er-end­ing train track, the scenery dis­ap­peared into a series of con­stant­ly reced­ing frames, form­ing a sur­re­al land­scape of alter­nate realms and infinitely expand­ing possibilities. As the cam­era panned back­wards on a course that smooth­ly shifted between aban­doned interiors and emp­ty rail­way lines, an infi­nite chain of mir­rored por­tals shrunk along the tracks in the rear-view.

These spectral shapes punc­tured the shift­ing hori­zon evoked the con­cept of the ‘sub­tle knife’ – the blade from author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Mate­ri­als series that can tease apart the fab­ric of space and time, cutting new paths into alter­nate uni­vers­es. The work also harkened back to the phan­tom ride films of the 1890s and ear­ly 1900s, in which a cam­era strapped to the front of a vehi­cle filmed the tracks and scenery ahead while the vehi­cle itself was left unseen. Crooks cap­tured the per­fect­ly con­stant tracking shots by using a cus­tom-devel­oped motion con­trol sys­tem, painstak­ing­ly stitched togeth­er in post-pro­duc­tion to become a seam­less jour­ney through a com­pos­ite world.

About the Artist

Daniel Crooks works pre­dom­i­nant­ly in video, pho­tog­ra­phy and sculp­ture. He is best known for his digital video and pho­to­graph­ic works that cap­ture and alter time and motion. Crooks manip­u­lates dig­i­tal imagery and footage as though it were a phys­i­cal mater­i­al. He breaks time down, frame by frame. The result­ing works expand our sense of tempo­ral­i­ty by manip­u­lat­ing dig­i­tal ‘time slices’ that are nor­mal­ly imper­cep­ti­ble to the human eye.

Crooks’ works are in notable pub­lic col­lec­tions, includ­ing, Nation­al Gallery of Aus­tralia, Can­ber­ra; M+ / Muse­um of Visu­al Cul­ture, Hong Kong; Aus­tralian Cen­tre for the Mov­ing Image, Mel­bourne; Muse­um of Old and New Art, Hobart; Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art Aus­tralia, Syd­ney; Nation­al Gallery of Vic­toria, Mel­bourne; Queens­land Art Gallery | Gallery of Mod­ern Art, Bris­bane; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Syd­ney; and the Chartwell Col­lec­tion, Auckland