Donald Trump and Morrissey in a still from 'panic' as part of 'content', Matthew Griffin
Still from 'content', Matthew Griffin, (2020)

Matthew Griffin: content

Sydney-based artist Matthew Griffin's commission, content, reflects on the age of overinformation.

Shown online in Gallery 5, 17 Dec 2020 – 1 May 2021.

Matthew Griffin’s practice spans video, sculpture, photography and installation. You can also find him online via his Instagram account @contemporaryary. Griffin’s profile features short videos that cannibalise and respond to everyday bits and bobs – snippets of television and personalised, often comical responses to current events and mundane scenarios. These videos are both immediate and transient – so current that they become outdated very quickly. Like Instagram stories or TikTok, this content has a shelf life. Accordingly, material on @contemporaryary does not last very long and is often quickly deleted by the artist (a handy way to avoid getting stung with any copyright claims for using pre-existing sound or footage too). Visit Griffin’s Instagram account and you might be lucky to find one video sitting there (Donald Trump playing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit on a set of miniature drums at the time of writing). Griffin’s is a practice of consumption, modification, and transformation. His clips sometimes have a life beyond the artist’s Instagram page – they can be re-recorded, screenshot, and cannibalised again, released back onto the internet out of the hands of the artist.

Matthew Griffin - content - 5 dollar note being folded
Still from 'content' by Matthew Griffin

Some of the clips that began life on Griffin’s Instagram account have been repurposed and rematerialise as part of content, his new commission for ACMI’s Gallery 5. content consists of twenty-seven individual clips arranged vertically. It is impossible to see them all at once so viewers must scroll, emulating the behaviour of doom surfing (the practice of incessantly scrolling through social media feeds, often attached to catastrophic events). Griffin is interested in the implications of living in the age of over information, in which we as consumers are assaulted by a constant barrage of content 24/7. But this new commission encourages us to engage with content in a different way. By removing the scroll button from the base of each video, Griffin imposes a sense of discipline upon the viewer. Increasingly accustomed to immediate gratification in the form of ‘likes’ and incessant scrolls, we are encouraged to stop and watch each video from beginning to end, and there are rewards for those with the patience to do so (just wait for the musings on Coldplay ...). Towards the end of the scroll the videos slowly fade to white, the final is just sound. content is a cumulative wave of material that moves in and out of focus, much like our attention spans. content is ephemeral too.  You have until 1 May 2021 before it disappears completely.

About Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin is an Australian artist. His work has been exhibited in traditional and untraditional platforms in Australia and overseas, including museums and galleries such as the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; Hayward Gallery, London; Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington; The Physics Room, Christchurch; and on social media platforms including Instagram and eBay.

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