Under the dome: Immerse yourself in Coral, Rekindling Venus

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Audiences experience Coral, Rekindling Venus, under the dome at RMIT Gallery. Photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2017.

As part of the major international exhibition Ocean Imaginaries at RMIT Gallery, Coral, Rekindling Venus, Australian artist/filmmaker Lynette Wallworth’s major work for fulldome digital planetariums, is being shown for the first time in an art gallery.

Celebrated for her use of interactive technologies to create immersive installations, Wallworth’s work is a frameless meditation on the fragility and fascinating beauty of coral, taking audiences into the mysterious realm of fluorescent coral reefs, bioluminescent sea creatures and rare marine life living in the oceans most threatened by climate change.

Coral: Rekindling Venus refers to the acute need for international collaboration on a scientific challenge of our own era: how to prevent our coral reefs from further erosion by climate change and other anthropogenic stresses.

Ocean Imaginaries curator Linda Williams explains: “For some years Wallworth has worked with Dr Anja Salih, a marine biologist specialising in coral fluorescence, a collaboration that has enabled the artist to show how corals filmed at night capture and emit light in radiant colours.

“In this sense, her work enacts a kind of biomimicry: as the coral evinces its resistance to erosion as it channels light, so the viewer is momentarily transported by brilliant light and colour into the oceanic world as a realm of wonder.”

Wallworth’s immersive installations and films reflect connections between people and the natural world. She is at the frontier of the use of digital domes to enable a fully immersive space where art, technology, science and beauty can converge.

“My intent is to leave the audience with a sense of wonder for the complexity of the coral community and a deep-felt longing to see it survive,” said Wallworth.

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Lynette Wallworth speaking to an audience at RMIT Gallery, with the fulldome video work Coral, Rekindling Venus, shown for the first time in an art gallery.

Wallworth regularly attends the WEF Davos as a Cultural Leader, and also mentors regularly at Sundance Labs.

Listen to the celebrated artist and TED Talk veteran talking about her work in this podcast of her floor talk at RMIT Gallery.

Part of CLIMARTE’s ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 – a festival of exhibitions and events harnessing the creative power of the Arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change.

Coral, Rekindling Venus
Lynette Wallworth’s immersive fulldome reef installation
Shown for the first time in an art gallery
Dates: 5 May – 1 July 2017
Times: Mon-Fri 11 am/ 5 pm/ Thurs 11 am – 7 pm/ Sat 12 noon – 5 pm
Venue: RMIT Gallery
Free – no bookings required

Kinetic sculpture explores tension between human and machine

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Number of the Machine, opening night performance, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Photo by Vicki Jones

Number of the Machine (19 May – 10 June) a compelling new performance-based work by celebrated choreographer Antony Hamilton at RMIT Gallery, explores the complex relationships between humans and technology.

In an age where Artificial Intelligence platforms are making inroads into both white collar and blue collar jobs, and climate issues are impacting on the most vulnerable in our communities as well as the environment, Number of the Machine is open to a range of interpretations and offers a powerful image of where we might be headed.

Audiences are invited to watch as over four continuous hours each day, performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney laboriously assemble and disassemble a timber dwelling from one synthetic island to the other.

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Number of the Machine, opening night performance, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Photo by Vicki Jones.

Number of the Machine is Antony’s first ever work for gallery spaces. “There is something about the very different spatial and narrative possibilities offered at RMIT Gallery that attracted me to presenting Number of the Machine in this environment,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton was invited by Darrin Verhagen, Director of RMIT’s Audiokinetic Experiments (AkE) Lab, to develop a work following a residency this year.

Verhagen, a senior lecturer in Media and Communication, said that the Audiokientic Experiments (AkE) Lab has facilitated a number of projects over the last three years which have been presented in various exhibitions at RMIT Gallery.

“Many of these projects, such as Object 2 (Experimenta Recharge 2014), Einsturzende Neubauten’s Klangbewegungmaschine (Geniale Diletanten 2015 – pictured below, left), blue|red: VIMS\SIMS (Morbis Artis, 2016 – pictured, below, right) explore the boundaries of what might be classified as fine art – philosophical challenges the gallery has been generous to platform.”

Antony Hamilton’s work takes the question to the next level – not only exploiting the choreography of two 6DOF Motion Simulators, but involving two live dancers in the installation.

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Number of the Machine exploits the choreography of two 6DOF Motion Simulators. Opening night performance, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Photo by Vicki Jones.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said that Hamilton’s kinetic work has a powerful resonance that complements the concurrent RMIT Gallery exhibition Ocean Imaginaries, which focuses on some of the contradictions and conflicted feelings raised by how the ocean is imagined in an age of environmental risk.

“We must not forget that climate issues impact on humanity – indeed, the most vulnerable in our communities, as well as the environment. Catastrophic environmental events will affect us all no matter how secure we think we are,” Davies said.

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(left to right) Antony Hamilton, Suzanne Davies and Darrin Verhagen, at the opening performance of ‘Number of the Machine’, standing in front of ‘Crossing the Rubicon, 2017’ a large scale photograph of an underwater sculpture by Jason Decaires Taylor that features in RMIT Gallery’s ‘Ocean Imaginaries’ exhibition.

Number of the Machine was created with the support of AkE Lab, City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria.

Kinetic sculpture performance by Antony Hamilton
Performers: Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney
Dates: 18 May – 10 June
Times: Mon-Sat 12.30-4.30 pm/ Thurs 2.30-6.30 pm
Venue: RMIT Gallery, Building 16, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
Free – you are welcome to enter and leave at any time during the performance

 

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Antony Hamilton’s kinetic sculpture opens at RMIT Gallery

RMIT_NumberMachine_Evite_800pxIn an age where Artificial Intelligence platforms are making inroads into both white collar and blue collar jobs, and climate issues are impacting on the most vulnerable in our communities as well as the environment, Number of the Machine, a compelling new performance-based work exploring the complex relationships between humans and technology, opens tonight at 5 pm at RMIT Gallery.

Created by celebrated choreographer Antony Hamilton, Number of the Machine (19 May – 10 June) is open to a range of interpretations and offers a powerful image of where we might be headed.

Number of the Machine is Hamilton’s first ever work for gallery spaces.

Hamilton’s multi-award winning performances involve a sophisticated melding of movement, sound and visual design. He has worked extensively throughout Australia and overseas, predominantly with Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc and Australian Dance Theatre (ADT), winning numerous awards including the prestigious Helpmann Award for Best Male Dancer (2009).

“There is something about the very different spatial and narrative possibilities offered at RMIT Gallery that attracted me to presenting Number of the Machine in this environment,” Hamilton said.

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Artistic Director Antony Hamilton watching a rehearsal of Number of the Machine at RMIT Gallery

In the work, which is performed continuously for four hours each day, two performers engage with a machine that reflects human intellect and biological physicality, but at the same time the task they pursue is seemingly futile and endless, and one that requires total physical activity at the expense of independent thought or creativity.

Combined with an ominous sound design by (((20hz))) that amplifies the rhythmic patterns in the two 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) motion simulators which activate the bodies, the machines exhibit a sentient quality that rivals the human body’s rank in the space.

“The idea is that people can stay as long as they want, watching the performance, and come and go throughout their visit to RMIT Gallery,” Hamilton said.

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Performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney in rehearsal for Number of the Machine at RMIT Gallery.

The original dance and motion simulator collaboration evolved through Hamilton’s residency with RMIT’s AkE Lab. The multidisciplinary research, teaching and learning laboratory uses motion simulators, 4D cinema seating, light and VR to explore relationships between sound, movement and vision.

The Audiokientic Experiments (AkE) Lab has facilitated a number of projects which have been presented in various exhibitions at RMIT Gallery. AkE’s associated artistic collective (((20hz))) has been supported by the gallery in presenting Object 2 (Experimenta Recharge 2014), Einsturzende Neubauten’s Klangbewegungmaschine (Geniale Diletanten 2015), blue|red: VIMS\SIMS (Morbis Artis, 2016) as well as Number of the Machine (2017).

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(((20hz)))’s Toby Brodel, from AkE (Audiokinetic Experiments) Lab RMIT, setting up the programming, system design and sound for Number of the Machine at RMIT Gallery.

Number of the Machine explores our entangled relationship with the constructed environment over countless millennia. The work invites audiences to watch as over four continuous hours each day, performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney laboriously assemble and disassemble a timber dwelling from one synthetic island to the other.

Hear Hamilton talk about Number of the Machine:

Hamilton’s kinetic work complements the concurrent RMIT Gallery exhibition Ocean Imaginaries which focuses on some of the contradictions and conflicted feelings raised by how the ocean is imagined in an age of environmental risk.

Daily performance times: 19 May – 10 June – Mondays-Saturdays 12.30-4.30pm and Thursdays 2.30-6.30pm.

Artistic Director Antony Hamilton, Programming, System Design and Sound (((20hz)))

Timber structure Justin Green Performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney

Sponsors Created with the support of Darrin Verhagen, AkE Lab, City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria.

Artists explore conflicted views of the oceans

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Join us at RMIT Gallery On Thursday 4 May 6-8 pm when Prof John Finnigan FAA, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and ANU Research School of Biology opens Ocean Imaginaries, a new exhibition that focuses on some of the contradictions and conflicted feelings raised by how the ocean is imagined in an age of environmental risk.

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Jason deCaires Taylor, Inertia, 2011.

The poetics of the ocean have long captured the human imagination. Once a wild and pristine environment and a compelling metaphor for the sacred mysteries of nature, the romantic image of the ocean has been eroded by the global threat of climate change.

RMIT Gallery’s new international exhibition Ocean Imaginaries (5 May – 1 July) features work by by 20 artists responding to various perceptions of global oceans.

Curated by Associate Professor Linda Williams,  Ocean Imaginaries is part of CLIMARTE’s ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 – a festival of exhibitions and events harnessing the creative power of the Arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change.

Ocean Imaginaries – Free Public Programs

Friday 5 May 1-2 pm – Curator’s talk 
In this curator’s talk, Associate Professor Linda Williams will take a guided tour of the exhibition at RMIT Gallery and talk about how Ocean Imaginaries responds to a recent turn to the ocean in the environmental humanities. REGISTER

Thursday 11 May 5.30 – 6.30 pm – Under the dome | Lynette Wallworth
Brisbane based artist Lynette Wallworth’s immersive installations and films reflect connections between people and the natural world. She is at the frontier of the use of digital domes to enable a fully immersive space where art, technology, science and beauty can converge. REGISTER

Coral – Lynette Wallworth: Trailer from Felix Media on Vimeo.

Friday 12 May 1-2 pm – Public talk: Art and environmental risk
Ocean Imaginaries is the fifth major exhibition on themes of environmental concern expressed through the arts that RMIT Gallery and Associate Professor Linda Williams from the RMIT School of Art have cooperatively curated. In this conversation, Linda Williams and artist Lynette Wallworth discuss how artists and curators respond to climate change. REGISTER

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Oceans: new and classic electro-acoustic compositions

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Caption: Portal (RMIT) merged with Seascape, by Finnegan Comte-Harvey, 2017

Join us at RMIT for two nights of new works and classics of the electro-acoustic repertoire inspired by the sounds of oceans.

The free events will be held at RMIT Storey Hall Auditorium, City campus, Level 5, 336-348 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Presented by RMIT Gallery in partnership with SIAL (Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory) Sound Studios, the concerts feature works by established and emerging composers from Australia, Canada, Italy, France, NZ, UK and Norway, including the world premiere of Ocean Deep by Canadian composer Barry Truax, who specializes in real-time implementations of granular synthesis, often of sampled sounds, and soundscapes.

Curation and sound diffusion: Lawrence Harvey.

Tuesday 2 May 6-8 pm – BOOK NOW

Buoy (2011) David Berezan (Canada/UK)

La vie en bleu (2013-2014) Anna Raimondo (Italy)

And then the sea came back (2016) Anja Kanngieser / Polly Stanton (Australia).

Island (2000) Barry Truax (Canada)

Prospero’s Voyage (2004) Barry Truax (Canada)

Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone (2017) Jana Winderen (Norway)

Wednesday 3 May 6-8 pm – BOOK NOW

Tides: Sea Flight (1984) Denis Smalley (NZ/UK)

frostbYte: cHaTter (2012) Daniel Blinkhorn (Australia)

Billy sees inside the sea (2016) Jane Ullman (Australia)

HydroSonics (2016) Leah Barclay (Australia)

Poranui (2011-12) Reuben Derrick (NZ)

Ocean Deep. World Premiere of new version (2017) Barry Truax (Canada)

Women behind the lens at RMIT – celebrating International Women’s Day

Photography was one of the foundation disciplines of the Working Men’s College back in 1887, and women were welcome to enrol in those classes – and not just photography classes but any of the classes that were offered.

On International Women’s Day, Dr Shane Hulbert, curator of Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of RMIT photography which opens at RMIT Gallery tomorrow night at 6 pm,  looks back at women’s involvement in the RMIT University photographic course over 130 years.

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Photography class, outdoor work 1904. RMIT University Archives Collection Working Men’s College Prospectus 1904, page 87 S0628

Visible presence – Women in photography class, 1904

This is an interesting historical document that reveals women were also photographers and were being trained in all aspects of photography in exactly the same way as men. Here we see multiple women, probably almost a third of the class, involved in outside work using large-format cameras which were very heavy and very technical to operate.

This image was taken in the 19th century, probably in the first decade that RMIT started teaching photography. At the time, you weren’t able to go down the street and buy film, or a camera, these things had to be constructed.

People had to purchase lenses and tripods (these are surveyor tripods) and then organise the glass plates and coat them with chemicals, make the exposure, and then process those plates and then make those prints. It’s laborious and very skilful and relies on knowledge of optics, mechanics and chemistry.

So it’s a really interesting photograph and historical document of the way that photography started at the University and its democratic process, through which people were able to learn photography.

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RMIT University Archives Collection Photography Class in Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne Technical College 1947 PH3.5.034:01

Taking control – women commanding the cameras

In this photograph, female students out number the men. That ratio still plays out today in the photographic course. We still have very much an even mix if not probably more than – depending on the year, of course, sometimes it swings a bit but I think right from the beginning it seems to be quite an even balance.

One of the wonderful things about photography, is that because it’s such a new art form it doesn’t have that legacy of the ‘hero artist’, the male, the sculptor, using their strength and dexterity to create art. It’s part of photography’s legacy that right from the start, women could control the cameras themselves, strength wasn’t required, and they could seize control. It’s part of photography’s history, and part of the teaching of photography at RMIT right from the start, 130 years ago. It was very democratic right from the start.

You can see how the progression of photographic equipment helped open the medium up to even more women. We’ve gone from the very cumbersome equipment in the previous outdoor image to being outdoors with cameras you can hold by hand. No strength required.

A couple of fairly significant technological advances allow that to happen, including the miniaturisation of devices that started in the 1940s, and that eventually led to computers and microchips.

The speed of the film meant that you were able to hold a camera by hand and photograph something with the duration of a fraction of a second, rather than multiple seconds. It meant that if you could hold your hand steady enough, which is not difficult, you were able to capture a still image without the use of a support.

In this image, we can see one tripod and an instructor pointing at something, and the class all holding onto their own cameras and photographing it in different ways. It’s interesting because you can see two or three different ways of composing and viewing an image.

The man on the far right is using what looks like a twin lens camera, looking down onto the viewfinder, so his experience of framing is very much about looking into the device rather than through the device, which is what the woman kneeling down next to him is doing.

Then the third woman along is looking through the tripod – that’s another way of composing, and she no longer has that freedom of movement to be able to very quickly change her direction or change her relationship to the subject.

It’s quite a compelling image as it demonstrates the both the progression of photography and the way RMIT was teaching photography at the time.

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Clare Rae, Untitled No 1 from the series Climbing the Stairs and Other Actions, 2009.

Self portrait – exploring feminist theories

This is a very interesting image by Clare Rae. Here we see the photographer inserting herself into the photo as a way of exploring themes and concepts, and it’s obviously a work by someone who has been trained in fine art photography.

Clare is not necessarily showing us how we see something, or telling a story. What’s she’s concerned about is an idea. As an artist, she’s been exploring ideas about femininity, feminist theories, gaze and balance for some time.

In this photograph, Clare herself is climbing the walls out of frustration. It’s an emotional response to things that she’s been reading about.

Clare has solved some of those inquisitive questions by experimenting with different framing devices, motion, and ways of inserting herself into the frame. This image is one of a series, several of which are the Photography 130 exhibition, in which she experiments with different poses and other people in the photographs.

The resulting works emphasise the way that she’s come to a discovery and realisation about what she wants to convey.

Read more about Photography 130 in this interview with Shane Hulbert.

Listen to the podcast

Photography 130: behind the scenes – one week to opening night

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Photography 130 installation: Curator Dr Shane Hulbert with Matthew Sleeth’s 3D photographic printing work ‘Scale Model For Still Life, 2009’.

The RMIT Gallery walls have been carefully repainted pristine white or the deepest black. Photographic works are tightly sealed in bubble wrap ready to be manoeuvred into position. The intense buzz of activity sweeps through the space. It is one week to the exhibition opening and anticipation is high.

RMIT Gallery’s exhibition Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT (10 March – 13 April) opens on Thursday 9 March 6-8 pm, with a very appropriate speaker – Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO RMIT Chancellor – who was CEO of  Kodak Australasia during the 1990s. In fact, at the same time the exhibition curator Dr Shane Hulbert was also working at Kodak.

“Our paths never crossed,” muses Dr Hulbert. “But it would have been a nice connection!”

Indeed.  Photography 130 features more than one hundred photographic works by 70 artists and photographers who have trained at RMIT, charting works that reflect the development of photography and its teaching at the University over the past 130 years, in what remains one of the longest running photographic programs in the world.

Dr Hulbert says during that time RMIT’s photographic training has made a significant impact on the way that people have viewed and photographed Melbourne and Australia, and the way that they have worked with photography around the world.

“Photography was one of the foundation disciplines of the Working Men’s College back in 1887, and women were welcome to enrol in those classes and not just photography classes but any of the classes that were offered,” Dr Hulbert said.

“In the 19th century the entire process of photography was laborious and skillful, and relied on knowledge of optics, mechanics and chemistry. People weren’t able to go down the street and buy film, or buy a camera, those things had to be constructed.

“People had to purchase lenses and tripods (often using surveyor tripods) and then organise the glass plates and coat them with chemicals, make the exposure, and then process those plates and then make those prints.”

According to Dr Hulbert, the exhibition is not prescriptive in capturing every staff member or every student who did photography at RMIT. It doesn’t even attempt to capture every decade, rather it reflects on certain key moments, certain clusters and periods that have shaped the future of photography at the University.

“One of the things that we talk about in photography is the way that we see and frame the world. What’s also sitting behind the lens is the person who takes the photograph, and how they compose and frame the world that they see.

“The idea behind someone who’s trained in photography is that they have a sense of the language and the understanding of the way that the photographic medium is capable of telling these stories, and are capable of highlighting particular elements of a frame or composing a particular narrative through that single frame.

“The skilled training RMIT is known for is about taking photography to a level that engages with the language and understanding of the medium, in order to create compelling and interesting photographs of not just what’s in front of the frame, but of the way the photographer sees the world.”

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Research Assistant Dr Sarah Edwards with Dr Shane Hulbert, positioning one of the large photographs into place.

Opening night – Photography 130: Behind the Lens / 130 years of photography at RMIT

Thursday 8 March 6-8 pm

Join the exhibiting artists and photographers at the opening night of RMIT Gallery’s ‘Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 years of photography at RMIT’.

Opening speaker: Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO, RMIT Chancellor.

Photography 130 public programs

Photography 130 – Behind the Lens: curator’s talk

Friday 10 March 1:00-2:00 pm
Photography 130 curator Shane Hulbert, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, Higher Education, School of Art, RMIT University, offers an expanded view of the role and contribution of RMIT University to the photographic imaging of Melbourne and Australia.

130 years of Photography at RMIT

Thursday 16 March 5:30 – 6.30 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Pauline Anastasiou, John Billan Gale Spring, and Alex Syndikas.

Photography Predictions & Premonitions

Thursday 23 March 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Panel with Shane Hulbert (chair), and photographers Bronek Kozka, Kate Robertson, and Murray McKeich.

Guided tours of Photography 130 exhibition

Suitable for school and university groups, VCE Studio Arts, and special interest groups.