Emerging out of the New Zealand punk scene in the late 1970s, Fetus Productions traversed music, art, experimental film and fashion, and played a key role in the development of international Industrial Culture. The core members were Jed Town, Mike Brookfield (aka Broxin) and Sarah Fort (aka Serum Delirium). Though principally known for their music, Fetus Productions' first provocation was in art.
Their 1980 exhibition at Auckland University's Little Theatre presented itself as a wake up call. Brookfield's screenprints of genetic deformities (famously including cyclopia) were contextualised by Town and Fort's soundtrack of water and scraping metal. This show would establish the Fetus Productions modus operandi. Intuitive Situationists, they would continue to counter spectacular mass-media culture with does of the Real throughout the early 1980s. Film would prove central to their project. They screened medical films during gigs - pioneering multimedia performance; and Town's experimental music clips ended up being shown in art galleries and experimental film programmes as well as on TV.
Town experimented with image sampling and compositing long before digital technology made it easy - he was ahead of his time. His no-budget films featured complex montages made by simultaneously projecting films and refilming the result. Town relished film's analogue texture. He celebrated the crudity and frailty of Super 8 home-movie film, its grain and flicker, and the image degradation that resulted through the recopying his approach demanded.
Surrealist dislocation was always key to the Fetus Products aesthetic. Town's imagery would lurch from sunsets to surgery, and the visuals were often out of sync with the mood of the soundtrack, creating a subtle, uncanny, and highly effective space, exceeding the group's reputation for simple shock tactics. Fetus Productions dispersed in the mid-1980s. Town got involved in the techno scene, while Brookfield concentrated on his clothing label Virus.
In 2002 Auckland's Artspace commissioned Town to develop a new video installation revisiting his Fetus Productions work. Our new acquisition Fetus Reproductions was the result.
In this three channel projection, Town revisits his archive of analogue film and video footage, reworking it using contemporary desktop digital technology. Self-consciously, Town re-produces Fetus Productions' cutting edge work in a new era, when digital video and music are commonplace.
The 47 minute piece incorporates old music clips, documentary footage of the band, the found medical films they projected during performances and more. It surveys all their techniques and preoccupations, particularly the use of multiple and overlaid images. The soundtrack is a veritable 'greatest hits' of Fetus Productions music. Twenty years on, Fetus Productions' bleak humanism is still surprising.
- New Gallery, Upper Level
- Free entry