English Title: Aucklantis

Country of Origin: New Zealand

Director: Gabriel White

Runtime: 25 minutes

Genre: Experimental

Year: 2008

Volume: Australasian

Gabriel White encapsulated his Auckland in Aucklantis one of a series of digital videos that he shot in Korea, China, and Mexico in the early twenty-first century.

Aucklantis opens on a shot of a man, Gabriel White, getting out of a car and attempting to push it backwards. As soon as he relaxes, the car begins to roll back from whence it came: a fitting metaphor for Auckland, a city that favours the private motor car over public transport. White then takes us on a pedestrian tour of his city, making a series of wry observations along his way past streams of anonymous autombiles. As White engages us, we ask: Who are these drivers, what are they doing, and where are they going in such a hurry? How do they interact with their drive-through locality as a community? What awaits them at their destination? His low-tech hand-held camera sways across supermarket shelves as White tells us that he always confuses the terms Eveready (batteries) with Everyday (low prices). He dreams that he is sleepwalking in the supermarket as a captain of an industry that specializes in sleep ware – pyjamas, sheets, slippers, hot water bottles, beds, lullabies, sleeping pills. White tells us that he aims to become the master of the sleeping universe and making everything (everyday and Eveready) as tiring as possible, reducing people to a state of inertia. As he trails his camera on foot through inner city Auckland, from Freemans Bay to downtown, White muses on time, classification and other puzzles facing a cinematic literati. His narration does not simply illustrate or reinforce what we are seeing but actually modifies how we look at what we are seeing, and extends our understanding of, and relationship to, the images. He becomes confused by the signs and meanings of society, misreading words to create whole new associations, almost as the deeper meanings that may underlie surface appearances. He becomes lost in society to such an extent that he loses his shadow.

White’s work presents a refreshing and humorous urbanity in its lively engagement of wit with locality.

Author of this review: Martin Rumsby