Drawn from the Sarjeant Gallery collection, this exhibition looks at some of the ways we see and experience the world around us and how these methods of observation have altered over time. The compact selection of artworks on display which includes painting, sculpture, and photography, highlight some of the senses and tools we have employed in making these observations: including our use of sight and hearing; cameras and mobile phones.
In Michael Illingworth’s Photographer. 1968 the viewer becomes the subject. The smartly dressed photographer waves his arm to keep your attention while you ‘pose’ in front of his vintage camera. The observer becomes the observed once more in Anne Noble’s Penguin (Nagoya Aquarium) Japan from her Antarctica series (2003). While the visitors are supposedly there to see the penguins, Noble makes the point that they are recording the view through tiny mobile phone screens rather than watching the expansive underwater vista in front of them, causing the real penguin to become a secondary blur. Perhaps we are spending too much time recording our observations and scrolling through endless user-generated content rather than being active participants ourselves in the world around us.
Image caption: Michael Illingworth, Photographer. 1968, oil on canvas, 1977/15/2. Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased, 1977.