Depot Catalogue Essay (Excerpt)

by Geraldine Barlow

The works of Cameron Robbins are rarely at rest – he prefers to harness the energy of prevailing elements such as the wind and waves as well as the forces of gravity and magnetism. For the Depot Robbins has taken to the boardroom, creating Binary Opposites IV 2008, a multi-storey, multi-dimensional artwork which cuts through the building quite literally.

Like a Kafka-esque instrument of metaphor, Robbins ‘device’ requires study and exploration to apprehend. When approaching the work from the boardroom level, we enter a kind of witness-box apparatus – the old reception desk has been reconfigured as a barrier to keep visitors slightly apart. On the roof of the depot wind vanes catch and transfer the motion of the wind down through the boardroom skylights, along aluminium relays and into large holes penetrating the floor into the old mechanical parts store below. The energy of the wind is relayed into an agitated and mobilised whiteboard as well as a lightly dancing white-board marker.

This is perhaps one of the most epic and ambitious of Robbins’ drawing machines. Like Morieson, he involves himself with imagining, designing and then creating the conditions through which the artwork will then be made. He sets himself at one remove from the immediate making of the work, like a divine driver, he is always somewhere behind, or within, the controls of the machine he has created. Yet, the works of both Morieson and Robbins playfully emphasise the role of chance, the limitations of design and the importance of rolling with the punches as the process unfolds.