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made in collaboration with the The Sydney Front


20.35 min video, stereo sound, 1991


Techno/Dumb/Show (1991), a collaboration between video artist-musician John Gillies and the performance group The Sydney Front, uses highly repetitive formalized gestures to create a performance-based work that explores melodrama and its links with the silent screen.      Museum of Modern Art

Melodrama draws attention to its own histrionic display. It presents a public language of the emotions. The interest is not in psychological subtleties, but in the permutations within a finite array of possible meaning.          

John Baylis, Sydney Front


Techno/Dumb/Show is a visually elaborate and extraordinarily sensual piece of work which focuses on the formal aspects of performance in a way which rescinds narrative. Yet in a paradoxical way, it is in this act of cancellation that questions about the conditions for, and functions of narrative, can be asked anew.

        Pamela Hansford, 'John Gillies and the Sydney Front', Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1991

The brilliant Techno/Dumb/Show is the result of a collaboration between video artist John Gillies and the avant-garde theatre group The Sydney Front. It’s an aggressive piece that takes the repetition of gestures and details to ecstatic heights. The human actions captured in the piece – a man riding a bicycle, another conducting an orchestra, to name a couple – become amazing conductors of energy. The simple actions are performed with great gusto, an almost demented physicality. Gillies edits the piece in virtuosic style. It’s a work-out, this video.    Marie Craven, Mesh Magazine 1996

At the intersection of performance and installation, Techno/Dumb/Show generated a set of untruthful allusions to narrative that varied from each other in such a way that a mesmerising copy was preferable to any original. 

Charles Green, Peripheral Vision: Contemporary Art in Australia 1970 - 1994

During the 1990s, Techno/Dumb/Show was screened internationally more often than any other Australian video.  embodying the information age, Australia Council 1999


performers: The Sydney Front (Elise Ahamnos, John Baylis, Andrea Eloise, Clare Grant, Nigel Kellaway, Chris Ryan)
sound, image, music, direction, edit: John Gillies 

guitar: Michael Sheridan 

drum programming: Jamie Fielding

thanks to: Stephen Harrop, Rik Rue

first installed: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney


Australian Video Art in the 1980s by Jacqueline Millner 2014
John Gillies: Video Works
by Leon Marvel, Photofile 2006
John Gillies makes Video by Ruark Lewis 2006
Live Art/Media Art: John Gillies and the Techno Live by Edward Scheer 2004
John Gillies: A Cinema of Lost Images by Therese Davis 2004
John Gillies and the Craft of Video by Nicholas Zurbrugg 1994
Peripheral Vision: Contemporary Art in Australia 1970 - 1994 b
y ​Charles Green
John Gillies interviewed
by Nicholas Zurbrugg 1994
Peter Callas interviewed by Nicholas Zurbrugg 1994

A Video that questions the Primacy of Narrative by John Conomos 1992
Montbeliard, Son Chateau, Son Eglise, Son Festival - Terre de Contrastes, review, Nov'Art, by Jean-Yves Barbichon 1992

Elevations of Trauma - Techno/Dumb/Show - John Gillies and the Sydney Front by Vikki Riley 1991
John Gillies and The Sydney Front by Pamela Hansford 1991

Pushing Video's Horizons, Special Feature, Video Camera 1991


Special Mention, New York Video Festival 1994

1st Prize, 9˚ Festival Internacional Vídeobrasil 1992
Special Award, Australian International Video Festival 1991


Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Fukuyama Museum of Art, Hiroshima

Griffith University Art Collection, Brisbane

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Videobrasil Collection, São Paulo

Eat Carpet, SBS TV, Australia

Exhibitions and Screenings

Liveworks, Performance Space, Carriageworks, Sydney 2023
Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane 2016

Queensland University Art Museum, Brisbane 2012

Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide 2010

Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 2010

Monash University Faculty Gallery, Melbourne 2010

Queensland University of Technology Gallery, Brisbane 2010

John Gillies: Videoworks, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane 2006

John Gillies, PICA, Perth 2005

John Gillies: Videoworks 1982-2001, Performance Space, Sydney 2004

Museu Victor Meirelles, Florianópolis 2002

Ayoul Festival, Beirut 1999

The Liquid Medium, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane 1999

Videoformes Festival, Clairmont-Ferrand 1999

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 1999

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne 1999

Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart 1999

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney 1999

Substation, Singapore 1999
John Gillies, Fundacio Itaú, Belo Horizonte 1997

Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane 1996

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane 1996

Canary Island International Video Festival, Las Palmas 1996
Experimenta, Australian Retrospective, Melbourne 1996

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid 1995

NBK, Berlin 1995

Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Tapei 1995

Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen 1995
Sound in Space, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney 1995
1er Festival Internacional de Video y Artes Electrónicas, Buenos Aires 1995

Museum of Modern Art, New York 1994

Montpellier Arcana Gallery, Montpellier 1994

Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax 1994

Espace Lyonnais d'Art Contemporain, Lyon 1994

Scene Nationale Les Plateaux, Angouleme 1994
Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane 1994
Impakt Festival voor Experimentele Kunst, Utrecht 1994
‘Videobrasil Retrospective’ 10th Videobrasil Festival of Electronic Art, SESC Pompéia, São Paulo 1994
Muestra de Video de Pamplona, Pamplona 1994
Galerie du collège Marcel Duchamp, Chateauroux 1994
Göteborg Festival, Göteborg 1994
New York Video Festival, New York 1994

World Wide Video Festival, Den Haag 1993
Retina ‘93 Festival, Svigtvar 1993
Strangers in Paradise, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1993
1’ere Manifestation Internationale Vidéo et Art Électronic, Montreal 1993
Magnetoscópio, Rio De Janeiro Fundição Progresso, Rio De Janeiro 1992
SoundWatch Festival '92, Artspace, Auckland 1992
New Visions International Festival of Film and Video, Glasgow 1992
Muumedia Festival, Helsinki 1992
EPE, Paris 1992
8˚ Internacional de Video de Cadiz, Cadiz 1992
Alliance Française de Belo Horizonte, Belo Horizonte 1992

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul 1992
Film and TV Institute West Australia, Fremantle 1992
Frames Festival of Film and Video, Adelaide 1992

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1992

Spiral Hall, Tokyo 1992
DAI Nippon, Tokyo 1992

Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 1992

Festival Internacional Vídeobrasil, São Paulo 1992
View Factory, Newcastle (Aus) 1991
Third Eye Centre, Glasgow 1991
Video Visions, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1991

Australian International Video Festival, Sydney 1991 

Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1991
Kasseler Dokumentar Film und Videofest, Kassel 1991
Video Medien Operative, Berlin 1991

London Film Festival, National Film Theatre, London 1991

Tate Gallery, Liverpool 1991

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