It’s nearly 7 am and in the minutes of White Night Melbourne and RMIT Gallery’s Experimenta Recharge, we reflect on the audience and their engagement with the media art exhibition during this cultural night of illumination and celebration in the Melbourne CBD.
Our enthusiastic team of six gallery volunteers who worked the 7 pm to 7 am shift were all eager to have “Korinsky time” before the exhibition ended and Experimenta Recharge left RMIT Gallery for its two year tour…this means lying on the floor of the sound art installation (in its own separate gallery room) and immersing yourself in the implications of hearing sounds from the past and placing yourself in a situation where perceptions of time, space and place might be disrupted.
“RL2000 2014”, by German group Korinsky, is a sound and mixed media installation imagines that sound never fully disappears and is present in our universe forever. What would it sound like to hear all the sounds of the past and present? How would it change our perceptions of time and death?
Sound artist collective Korinsky’s installation inspired by the recent announcement by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre that they had documented sound waves from the Big Bang soon after the birth of our universe.
In the main gallery, our volunteers spent the evening patiently explaining the intriguing artwork by Brisbane based bio artist Svenja Kratz called “The Contamination of Alice: Instance #8”. The work, on a raised white plinth, is part of an ongoing investigation begun in 2008 that has produced a series of installations collectively titled: The Absence of Alice.
Under the glow of a fragmented projection, a lifelike face with disturbingly blinking eyes appears over a an inert mask. A dome above contains a decaying, contaminated jelly like version of the mask. The series explores biotechnologies, specifically Saos-2, a cell line isolated from the bone cancer lesion of an 11-year-old girl, Alice, in 1973.
The artist says the following about this series:
“Since the establishment of the Saos-2 cell line, Alice’s cells are routinely in research
laboratories throughout the world. As such, even though Alice is most likely long
deceased, due to the virulent nature of her cancer, the overall biomass of the
remaining cells now most likely far outweighs the mass of her body when she was
Our volunteers agreed – once everyone understood the story behind “The Contamination of Alice” they were really intrigued.
The long queues waited patiently until at least 5 am for the work “A series of small wire objects (many of them uninteresting): Object 2”. This work, which only allows two people to view it behind the black curtain at a time, contains a series of small wire objects (actually, twisted paperclips) and is concerned with extending sound art composition into visual form through the use of an ordinary
sculptural object as a means of focusing audience attention.
The artists RMIT lecturer Darrin Verhagen, Stuart McFarlane and Toby Brodel explore how the simplest of objects may be transformed into something startling and mesmerising through the simultaneous use of sound, light and colour.
A real crowd pleaser was Japanese artist and musician Ei Wada’s work Falling Records. Our volunteer’s agreed – “everyone was ‘oohing and aahing’ over Falling Records‘” which is presented as a performance work. The tape in the soaring plinths slowly winds down, then the mechanism stops, and then jumps into reverse, to the sound of strange music…
Ei Wada explains in his wall text:
This is one of the works that I have created based on my notion of Electronicostic
Imagination. Electronicos is a word I have coined which means something old has
been transformed from its original use into a new contemporary paradigm.
The idea was inspired by an incident in which I observed a tape dropping and piling up
on a floor.
And because of their fascination with the phenomenon of music visually piling-up, they
might build a huge tower of Electronicos in some public space. In the evening, they will
look at the tower, the magnetic materials falling, the rotational movement, the
rewinding. And, over time, the sounds and vision will be indelibly inscribed in their
No one will quickly forget Brazilian artist Anasia Franco’s three works in the exhibition – especially the so called ‘screaming teeth’ – or the work ‘Paranoia’. And that includes not just the fanciful fairy who wandered in after midnight, but also the poor baby who leaned in to the interactive work from the safety of his father’s arms, only to get the fright of his life when the teeth screamed at him.
“That poor baby! His screams were louder than the teeth,” one volunteer recalled.
In contrast, Anasia Franco’s other interactive work, “Emanating Happiness” did just that – when anyone stood on the pod, they laughed, giggled, and playfully interacted with the floor based work. It was a joy, and aptly named.
With every interactive exhibition, and especially for an event as big as White Night, there is the temptation to take home a little of the experience…and so we found that the 3D glasses used in Khaled Sabsabi’s massive work 70,000 Veils, which originates from the Prophet Mohammed’s teaching
that ‘there are 70 000 veils of light and darkness separating the individual from the divine, went ‘walkabout’.
In 70,000 Veils, Sabsabi explores the depths of this teaching, exploiting the infinite possibilities of digital image rendering and media technology to contemplate its spiritual essence and application within a lived reality. Each of the 100 monitors in this installation plays an individual file of 700 photographs composited over the top of each other. Each file plays for 700 seconds each before repeating, producing a random installation of 70 000 images.
The images are photographs of the everyday taken over the last 10 years of the artist’s career and include architectural features, streetscapes, and photos of media propaganda taken during his travels to the Middle East. All the better viewed with 3D glasses….