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Dan Moynihan
Seeing things 2015

mirror finish 316 stainless steel, epoxy industrial coating psx700, aluminium
Monash University Public Art Commission, 2016
Monash University Collection
Location: West wall, 15 Rainforest Walk, Clayton campus


Dan Moynihan’s new commission is so seamlessly incorporated into the architectural landscape of the Clayton campus that it may not, at first, be recognised as art. In keeping with the surrounding buildings and 1960s functional modernist style still visible across much of the campus, Moynihan’s thirty-metre long wall is clad in bricks too. The work’s scale is life-size but not necessarily life-like.

In Seeing things the Monash vernacular of mission brown bricks and mortar has been replaced with polished stainless steel and pastel hues that create an effect that is unexpected and magical. What was once an unassuming lecture theatre wall has been transformed into a mirrored surface that glistens in the sun and reflects the small forest of pine trees planted in the courtyard it looks onto and the people walking by. The work’s brick patterning creates a slippery image however, one that comes in and out of focus, making it difficult to maintain a clear view of oneself across the wall’s surface. As the artwork’s title suggests, the wall creates a mirage effect that both captures its immediate environment while disguising what goes on in the building it is attached to.

Before becoming an artist Moynihan trained and worked as a carpenter and these skills are reflected in the crafting and material investigations found in much of his work. He has stated, in his typically deadpan style, that: ‘Terminator X speaks with his hands and so do I’. This humorous observation is reflective of his interest in both comedy and film. Hollywood cinema, Looney Tunes cartoons and comics have all been important influences on his work. Seeking to capture a magic moment akin to when black and white TV came alive in vivid technicolour, Moynihan’s Seeing things works to transform the neutrality and regularity of brick work into a more  expansive perceptual threshold through which we can encounter a new reality, one that is shinier and brighter. Seeing things becomes a stage set in which we are encouraged to escape conformity and think fantastical thoughts.