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Light Research @ MMU

Atmospheric installation in industrial Melbourne

Over three summer nights (22-24 January), a team of three artists and one geographer (Fiona Hillary, Jordan Lacey, Eliot Palmer and Shanti Sumartojo) set out to explore atmosphere through a three-day ‘site-responsive’ artwork in Melbourne, part of artist Dagmara Gieysztor’s 3 month residency courtesy of Maribyrnong council, contain yourself.

Melbourne - view of bunbury street bridge - smallThe installation took place in two shipping containers located adjacent to a heavy freight rail bridge, which crossed the Maribryong River to reach a giant container yard. Our response to the site used light, sound and vibration. Jordan Lacey has blogged about the sound here ( https://soundandmind.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/live-industrial-soundscape-the-maribyrnong/), but light also played a crucial part.
Melbourne - view of two containers in daylight - smallThere were two illuminated elements to the work. The neon aspect consisted of different lengths and colours that were hung in a bright sketch that recalled the lines of the site. The effect in the daytime was of distinct rods of colour, gentle but vivid. As the twilight turned to evening, however, the neon appeared to grow in strength and luminosity, and the colours became more immersive. The neon blended and mixed, sometimes pulsating gently in response to the vibrations. Glowing colour
Melbourne - view of neon with bike - small The second use of light came with projections of photographs. These captured the subtle textures and patterns of the site that can easily slip out of conscious noticing. Images of paving, cobblestones, weeds, the patina of the rusted steel bridge, tree bark and rippled river water quietly glowed in a low corner. Like the neon, the images only became clearly visible as the light changed, hinting at the quotidian transformation of day to night that shape our experience and perception of space.Melbourne - view of projectionVisitors stepped in and out of the open container, sometimes looking at the neon, sometimes looking out at the view across the river, which had its own lightscape to enjoy. The installation thus drew on its sensory surroundings for inspiration, blending with and into its spatial context.

 

Melbourne - view of container yard - small

February 12th, 2015 - 10:23am

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City , Monash Gallery of Art

Melissa Miles from Monash University, Melbourne has curated an exhibition, running at  Monash Gallery of Art until 1 March 2015: http://www.mga.org.au/exhibition/view/exhibition/164.

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City focuses on the special role of light in stimulating imagination in Australian photography, and for envisioning modern cities as places of dreams and wonder. As a technology of light and of modernity, photography proved an ideal medium for imaging Australian cities. Photographers including Harold Cazneaux, Max Dupain, David Moore, Olive Cotton and Mark Strizic, used their cameras to revel in the magic of sunlight and artificial illumination in cities, and drew upon different metaphors of light to represent their ambitions for Australian modernity or express disenchantment with its failings.

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Mark Strizic, Flinders Lane, 1967, 1967 gelatin silver print; 37.0 x 37.0 cm,  Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection (donated by the Bowness Family through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2008, MGA 2008.110; courtesy of the Estate of Mark Strizic)

The early to mid twentieth century was a period of gradual change in Australian cities and photography alike. Australians did not experience modernisation as a dramatic revolution or a sudden wave of change, as it was experienced in parts of Europe. Mass-production manufacturing industries were not a significant part of the Australian economy until after the Second World War, and skyscrapers did not reshape the city skyline until the early 1960s. Such European and American conceptions of modernity as a dramatic sense of the new displacing the old, were experienced in Australia as a kind of expectation or immanence rather than a sudden shift.

 

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Max Dupain, Mosman Bay at dusk, 1937, gelatin silver print, 49.6 x 32.6 cm, Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection (donated by James Mollison AO through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2008, MGA 2008.006)

This sense of immanence and gradual change is reflected in the diversity of photographic styles used to represent cities, from the hazy light and fuzzy effects associated with Pictorialist photography to the crisp sharp lines of modernism. During the 1930s and 40s, members of an older generation of Australian photographers, including the Pictorialists Cazneaux and George Morris, were responding to their urban experiences alongside younger generations linked to modernist and new documentary practices, such as Dupain and Cotton. The exhibition reveals how photographers utilized light, shadow and artificial illumination to enrich and enliven their imagery in ways that often transcended neat stylistic categories.

Melissa has a related book coming out next year, The Language of Light and Dark: Light and Place in Australian Photography: http://www.mqup.ca/language-of-light-and-dark–the-products-9780773545502.php

December 11th, 2014 - 13:24pm

Gertrude Street Festival part 2: Objects, Materials and Associations

Several of the projections at the GSPF use objects or unexpected surfaces, exploring materiality and its transformation through projected images and patterns. Olaf Meyer’s The People’s Car, parked a few metres down a sidestreet, is a 1968 white Volkswagen Beetle with digitally mapped projected designs that flicker, undulate and turn. Swirly stripes alternate with dynamic go-faster patterns and blocked colours that emphasise the shape, movement and psychedelic associations of the iconic car.Gertrude 5

On a smaller scale, broken brickwork is piled up in a shopfront to extend the illusion of masonry being shattered with a hammer. Keith Deverell’s Foundation speaks to gentrification (an aspect of recent developments in the Gertrude Street neighborhood) and processes of demolition. A still image from the projection shows a moment of impact, with bits of actual brick arranged to appear to cascade down from the flickering light of the installation. These works move beyond treating the surfaces of buildings as screens for projection art. Instead, they extend and deepen the artworks by blurring the material and immaterial and working narrative into the pieces, telling stories of and through the objects they employ. Mounted at street level, visitors can get up close to these works, and although the mechanics of the projectors are evident, the effect is still intriguing (posted by Shanti Sumartojo).Gertrude 6

 

July 29th, 2014 - 13:20pm

Gertrude Street Projection Festival, Melbourne

The Gertrude Street Projection Festival, on the edge of Melbourne’s city centre, runs from 18- 28 July. Works are projected at 30 sites and the GSPF enjoys a mix of contributions from major and emerging projection artists, community engagement partners and art students. This variety gives Gertrude Street a unique excitement, as visitors move from site to site, not knowing what content, scale or materiality to expect from each installation. While some of the major works are spectacular and impressive, such as Nick Azidis’ Lighthouse, a massive projection onto the façade of a housing tower, others are invite close scrutiny and engagement.gertrude 3gertrude 2Gertrude 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Particularly bewitching and intimate is Arika Waulu’s Young Blood, projections into large glass jars hung around eye level in a shop window. The faces in the jars had been filmed underwater, and the vitrine surface of the glass enhanced the impression of submerged movement. Eerie and beautiful, one visitor described it as ‘pickled heads’. The macabre effect was enhanced by a large taxidermy zebra head behind it in the shop. Posted by Shanti Sumartojo

Gertrude 4

July 23rd, 2014 - 10:30am

Radiant Lines in Melbourne

British architect Asif Khan (www.asif-khan.com) has devised a spellbinding sculpture that sits at the heart of the Melbourne’s Federation Square as part of the city’s Light in Winter Programme. The cylindrical piece, with a height of 5 meteres and a 15 metre diameter, is composed out of 40 rings of aluminium. As darkness descends, hundreds of white LED lights pulse along the rings in both directions, and the sculpture is activated by invisible triggers that produce vertical bands of light whenever anybody steps across its threshold.radiant lines 1

The more people move in and out of its interior, the brighter and more dynamic the sculpture becomes, the vertical segments of light then dispersing by orbiting the structure. This vibrancy draws in yet more participants as well as onlookers who watch the pleasingly multiple patterns, honouring and recording everybody’s presence. Yet the work is best experienced without distraction when the traffic dies down, the other activities in the square diminish, the lights dim and a few visitors move between its interior and exterior. Khan reckons that the work mimics the natural phenomenon of the light emitted by bioluminescent organisms, but whatever the symbolism behind it, the shapely work charges this architecturally diverse plaza with an energy and other-worldliness that testifies to the potency of light to transform the habitual nocturnal space of the city. Photos by Shanti Sumartojoradiant lines 4

June 20th, 2014 - 06:31am

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