DUT Final Year Exhibition
Tuesday night saw DUT hosting it’s annual Third Year and BTech exhibition which showcases the work of the students throughout the year. Luke Smith reluctantly reviews the night.
It was only when I arrived at DUT on Tuesday that I thought maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. I took all of 5 seconds to respond to Bob when he asked if I wanted to ‘cover the DUT vibe tomorrow’, and instead of thinking about what exactly that would entail, I immediately replied. Walking through the entrance and milling around the quad area, I couldn’t shake the idea that I should have probably thought a bit longer about this one. You see, beyond the fact that there was so much shit going on, it was one of those nights where you battle to just slap your opinion on it. How exactly do you review the work students have to do for a year end portfolio and mark? It was a night that would be incredibly easy to be an asshole about, but difficult to justify why. “I can still bail and blame car trouble” I thought as I walked up the stairs.
Normally you’d find at least several stand-out displays, but this year I resorted to counting stand-out pieces.
I had barely gotten to the 3rd year exhibition room before I was told I had to make my way back down the stairs because the presentation was beginning. My inner punk kicked in. I had just walked up those goddamn things and there was no way I was going back down. 5 minutes later and I was standing in a crowd while Garth Walker talked to a sizable audience. Well, at least I think it was Garth Walker, and I think he talked to them; all I could hear was a whole lot of ‘mumble mumble’. In the entire speech the only thing I really heard was something about income tax; I guess he was telling the audience to get a real degree. He also probably said something about Steve Jobs. Or is that a Vega thing only? Garth Walker, I think, walked off to applause and something was said about awards, my cue to head back upstairs.
Now, here is where, unfortunately, I am going to be a bit of an asshole and not really justify it. I spent a long time in the 3rd year room (a long time) and all I’m gonna say is this: I didn’t find the work lived up to previous years. Done. Maybe it’s to do with me being older (jaded), having a more specific taste (jaded) or it just being an off night for me(jaded); I don’t know, but I honestly felt that the level wasn’t the same as years I had seen before. Normally you’d find at least several stand-out displays, but this year I resorted to counting stand-out pieces. I didn’t get to use both hands. If you saw otherwise, please feel free to chew me out in the comment section.
3 meters and a set of stairs to the left and it was the BTech room. Without fail, this room/exhibition always manages to blow my mind in some way or another and this year Jono Rich, Matri Van Der Heever and Tyler Dolan’s displays all stood out. But it was Mike Van Heerden and Dain Knudson’s work that really stole the show. In the former’s case a “Hey man, anyone can get cool shit cut out of wood” argument could be made, but the overriding quality of his work was not the wood, but the design itself: clear, solid and never overstated; there wasn’t a piece I didn’t enjoy looking at. Dain Knudsen’s work was in a room of its own and deservedly so. I often think that graffiti is something in which you can hide inadequacies by looking busy. Appear complex by making something look complex. Dain’s work was a straight up middle finger to my thoughts. Along with several enormous and superbly executed aerosol pieces, there was a beautifully laid out area showcasing the process work for the art that lined the staircase walls in the walk up to exhibition areas. I love seeing how artists/designers get to their final point and Dain’s process work was as good as his finished products. His work was the highlight of my night.
The final part of the night did give him a good run for that honour though. I hadn’t seen Coals Of Juniper before and, nancy-sounding name aside, they really impressed. They are obviously 3 talented individuals, but it wasn’t the talent on their instruments that impressed me: the songwriting did. Constantly on the cusp of being a jam session, they always managed to bring the crowd back at the right time. Being experimental is one thing, songwriting is another, and Coals Of Juniper straddled that fine line to the point of perfection. Their set ran the gamut of soft and delicate to heavy and aggressive but the best part of the show, and a fitting end to an interesting night, was their final song: moms, dads, sons, daughters, staff and students (both past and present) and tag-a-longs like me, all bobbing their heads to a medley of Rage Against The Machine sounding riffs played under a tree in a 100 year old courtyard. Perfect.