The Subtle Knife
28th November 2022 – 19th March 2023
Murray Art Museum Albury
In The Subtle Knife, Daniel Crooks takes us on a contemplative journey through time and space. Moving slowly down a never-ending train track, the scenery disappears into a series of constantly receding frames, forming a surreal landscape of alternate realms and infinitely expanding possibilities.
As the camera pans backwards on a course that smoothly shifts between abandoned interiors and empty railway lines, an infinite chain of mirrored portals shrink along the tracks in the rear-view. These spectral shapes puncturing the shifting horizon evoke the concept of the ‘subtle knife’ – the blade from author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series that can tease apart the fabric of space and time, cutting new paths into alternate universes. The work also harkens back to the phantom ride films of the 1890s and early 1900s, in which a camera strapped to the front of a vehicle films the tracks and scenery ahead while the vehicle itself was left unseen. Crooks captured the perfectly constant tracking shots by using a custom-developed motion control system, painstakingly stitched together in post-production to become a seamless journey through a composite world.