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online e-dition sept 5

in the loop sept 5: digital whispers & shadows

speak to me, experimenta

Katie Turnbull,  Modern Vanitas (detail) 2012 Katie Turnbull, Modern Vanitas (detail) 2012
image courtesy and © the artist, commissioned by Experimenta
Titled Speak to Me, Experimenta’s fifth biennial of media art seeks to explore how technology and its ubiquity is effecting the way we meaningfully communicate. Curator Abigail Moncrieff says: “As technology continues to shape and infiltrate our lives in the 21st century, we have to consider how this influences our relationships, daily actions and the way we engage with our space and each other” (press release).

Experimenta has commissioned five new works from local and international artists. In an ongoing investigation into robotics and the uncanny, Wade Marynowsky (Aus) has created The Acconci Robot. Inspired by Vito Acconci’s 1969 performance Follow Piece, in which the artist randomly chose and followed a passerby until they went into a private space, Marynowsky’s robot takes the form of a wardrobe that follows gallery visitors around when they are not looking, stopping as soon as it is spotted. (See Dan MacKinlay’s review of Marynowsky’s previous work, The Hosts.)

Modern Vanitas by Katie Turnbull (Aus) uses a juxtaposition of old and new technologies. Starting with still life, her work draws on the symbologies of life, death and time common to baroque vanitas art but combines these with images of globalisation, digital technology and communications. The work takes the form of a proto-cinematic mechanism, a variation on the zoetrope.

Jess MacNeil (Aus/UK) is creating a three-screen immersive work filmed in Paris outside the Hotel de Ville, in which ice skaters play a game of sparrowhawk (a variation of tag). However MacNeil has removed the skaters from the image leaving only their shadows. The skaters only become visible when they make physical contact. Also screen-based is Milieu by Christopher Fulham (Aus), a 58-minute single-channel work filmed in one take in an urban location. Through post-production manipulations the work seeks to challenge viewers' level of attention and awareness, drawing them "into the inner lives of those depicted on screen" (press release).

For the big screen at Federation Square, Young?Hae Chang Heavy Industries will be presenting a new work made specifically for Speak to Me, in their trademark style of noir text animation and cool jazz (see review of ALL FALL DOWN at MAAP04). At ACMI Ian Burns (Aus/US, in his commissioned work anywhere and here, will create assemblages of screens and domestic and hardware items to explore consumerism and the physical construction of cinema images.

Sylvie Blocher, 10 Minutes of Freedom 2 (still) 2010 Sylvie Blocher, 10 Minutes of Freedom 2 (still) 2010
image courtesy and © the artist
Other international highlights include 10 minutes of freedom 2 by Sylvie Blocher (France) in which the artist has filmed young people from one of the poorest cities in France discussing what they think is “unspeakable.” (See a review of Biocher's work at Sydney’s MCA in 2010.) There’s also an interactive work by Scenocosme (France), Lights Contacts, in which "viewers position themselves under a light filled dome. By touching a metallic ball and each other, their bodies are transformed into a human instrument that transmits light and sound" (press release). Shih Chieh Huang (Taiwan) will create a robotic ecosystem from cannibalised domestic electronics and everyday items in Slide to Unlock 2012, while Ryoko Aoki and Zon Ito (Japan) will present a manga animation across eight screens in which the illustrations form “chains or links…that endlessly transform into another” (press release).

Scenocosme, Lights Contacts (installation view) 2010 Scenocosme, Lights Contacts (installation view) 2010
image courtesy and © the artists
There will also be a keynote speech presented by artificial intelligence expert Hiroshi Ishiguro (see Alex Crosby’s review of his Geminoid project in RT93). The main exhibition will take place for the first time at the RMIT Gallery along with installations across a range of other venues in Melbourne. Speak To Me will then tour nationally in 2013-2014.

Experimenta: Speak to Me, various venues across Melbourne, Sept 14-Nov 17, 2012;

RealTime issue #110 Aug-Sept 2012 pg. web

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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