Time Out - London - March 6-13 2002

Art Review
Dryden Goodwin - Tate Britain museums

Sarah Kent

Dryden Goodwin's Closer is a three-screen video of the city at night. He sets the scene in classic film noir fashion; patterns of shimmering dots pulsating against the night sky offer a romantic overview of city lights. Coming down to earth, we drive past buildings blurred by speed. Then, as the artist homes in on his prey, we stand in the street peering at lighted office windows trying to glimpse the people within. A feeling of déjà vu overwhelms me. My desk faces a window and, after dark when the lights are on, the offices across the road are open to view. Like taking the front off a doll's house to peer inside, I can see the occupants of adjacent rooms working at their desks or wandering from one space to another. In each room a television is switched on, creating a pocket of dramatic action that emphasises the calm of the surroundings. Occasionally someone emerges on to the balcony; seeing them outside their fishtank realm is as startling as if a film star had stepped off screen to enter the real world.

Goodwin conveys the magical unreality of people seen through glass who appear more like seen images than physical presences; yet he tries to establish contact. Using a laser torch, he carefully draws round windows as though creating a frame to cradle the person within. Getting bolder, he outlines a head, follows a hair-line or traces round an ear. He focuses on a neck and, as though in response to physical contact, the man scratches. Some of his subjects stare back, as though conscious of being watched, yet the video seems more celebratory than intrusive - more a caress than an irritant. The final shot is of a woman fixing the camera with a beady eye, as though determined to stare out the unseen observer. Beautifully framed, in its quiet intensity it reminded me of a Vermeer painting; but, then, I'm as unrepentant a voyeur as Dryden Goodwin.