So our ability to read the image is automatically secondary, [as] our eyes are preoccupied with the brightest spot.' An extreme demonstration of this preoccupation with bright spots, as well as an intriguing anticipation of this latest exhibition at Project Arts Centre, is provided by , 2007.
This is a short, looped video, recorded at night, in which a meandering traversal of an urban garden is traced by torchlight, briefly illuminating disparate details of its flora.
This is a five- minute video loop projected onto a rectangular panel of MDF on which a large, slightly off-centre stain has been painted in black oil paint, which corresponds to an obscured area of the projected imagery produced by placing a black piece of paper in front of the camera lens while filming.
In this instance, a similarly wayward camera surveys the cluttered interior of an antique shop as well as the open vistas of a tree-filled public park.
Hyphenated terms such as ‘video-painting’ more often than not are intended to suggest a marriage of concerns and/or characteristics deemed somehow inherent to disparate mediums.
O’Malley’s coinage, however, denotes a literal hybrid.
Of course the definitive account of this self-reflexiveness is that provided by Krauss’s early mentor, Clement Greenberg, who described the evolution of modernist painting in terms of progressive stages of refinement, which is to say the gradual filtering out of all those properties painting had accrued through the ages that were not inherent to it as a medium.
While this may seem to take us some distance from the work of Niamh O’Malley, which appears to play hard and fast with medium-specificity, the question of filtering, and the issue of the filter, in both mechanical and metaphoric terms, merits further examination.
Much that remains characteristic of O’Malley’s work, which has nevertheless evolved and diversified considerably in the intervening years, is already in evidence here.
This includes her unique blend of the sensual with the schematic, as well as a kind of cat-and-mouse play between revelation and occlusion or, put more dramatically, between seduction and disenchantment.