The first extensive body of work by O’Malley to attract significant critical attention, which she embarked upon in 2003, is a case in point.
This was a series of what she refers to as ‘video-paintings’, a term that signaled early on a willingness to confound inherited categories and to dispense with any fidelity to the specificity of a given medium.
The work is projected onto a screen of stretched canvas painted black in a blacked out room such that the viewer is enveloped in almost total darkness, save for the shifting cone of projected light, which effectively mimics the original movements of the torch.
Yet O’Malley seems no less interested in dark spots – or indeed blind spots – than in bright ones, as we can see from a pendant work, , made the following year, in 2008.
So our ability to read the image is automatically secondary, [as] our eyes are preoccupied with the brightest spot.' An extreme demonstration of this preoccupation with bright spots, as well as an intriguing anticipation of this latest exhibition at Project Arts Centre, is provided by , 2007.
This is a short, looped video, recorded at night, in which a meandering traversal of an urban garden is traced by torchlight, briefly illuminating disparate details of its flora.Hyphenated terms such as ‘video-painting’ more often than not are intended to suggest a marriage of concerns and/or characteristics deemed somehow inherent to disparate mediums.O’Malley’s coinage, however, denotes a literal hybrid.as opaque, transparent or reflective; as something to be looked at, looked through, or both simultaneously, in effect.Regarding stained glass in particular she has the following to add to the remark already quoted: 'I read somewhere about how stained glass, as well as provoking interiority, is difficult to read, as our eyes are meant to make sense of light falling them.The result is an uncannily shimmering ‘doubled’ picture in saturated colours, which becomes especially disconcerting, even ghostly, when the superimposed moving imagery is at variance with the static image beneath.At the end of the video loop the projected image suddenly dissolves, briefly but exquisitely exposing the nature of the artifice, before resuming and, by doing so, reanimating, without actually restoring, the work’s formative illusion.A filter is a device designed to remove unwanted material.Its purpose is refinement, purification, and the general enhancement of a given experience.These low-tech intrusions of colour and surface undulations, see the world of solid rock ooze, slipping across our retina – liquefying foci and depths of field – returning them to their molten prehistoric states.Rock travels like bodies and language and looks; Robert Smithson knew this too.