JOHN SMITH'S Hotel Diaries opens today in the South Tipperary Arts Centre, Nelson Street, Clonmel. Brendan Maher, the curator, graciously extended an invitation to me to open the event. It's a video installation--something that may condemn the fixture to low attendance during the running of the show. In my experience, a lot of people have difficulties interpreting video so they avoid it when shown in an art gallery. Hotel Diaries should not be very difficult to approach. It is a series of late night recordings made in European hotel rooms, all of which relate personal experiences to contemporary world events. Works in the series displayed in Clonmel include Frozen War (Ireland, 2001), Museum Piece (Germany, 2004), and Throwing Stones (Switzerland, 2004). There are elements of placement and subtle choreography inherent in the one-handed steady cam footage shot by John Smith that deserves 11 minutes of attention from those visiting the art gallery. However, I know most people never give one-quarter of that amount of time to paintings or prints they see in art galleries, so that's why I think the concept of a video installation is just too daunting for the casual viewer off the street. I'm going--more than once, of course--because there are elements worth reviewing in dozen of the frames that I've watched already.
Image snapped from "Frozen War" (Ireland 2001).