Page 1

1

BROWN COUNCIL HIT&MISS RACHEL FEERY + LISA STEWART TIMOTHY P KERR JANE KORMAN ALANNA + MATTHEW LORENZON RIKI-METISSE MARLOW MS&MR HANNAH RAISIN SAFARI TEAM SAM SMITH LACHLAN TETLOW-STUART MICHAEL VALE JEMIMA WYMAN


2


SHORT PLAY VOLUME 00 : 01 PLAY


Publisher Short Play Publications Melbourne, Australia, 2010 Stockists & general information www.shortplaypublications.com.au Enquiries info@shortplaypublications.com.au Curator/Producer Rachel Feery Editor Mark Hewitt Design Carla McKee Contributors Davina Adamson, Laura Castagnini Shae Nagorcka, Jessie Scott, Jadan Sproule-Carroll Printing Monash Print Services Typeset Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk 6/8 pt Š 2010 Short Play and the authors, designers, artists, photographers and other contributors. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher. The views expressed in Short Play are those of the respective contributors and not necessarily of the publication. ISBN 978-0-9808761-0-9


Contents

Rachel Feery The playful artist: A look at Contemporary Australian Video Artworks

1

Laura Castagnini How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Humour and

5

‘play’ in contemporary feminist performance Brown Council Hannah Raisin Jemima Wyman

8

Hit&Miss Jadan Sproule-Carroll All work and no youtube makes Jack a dull boy Jane Korman Timothy P Kerr Jessie Scott Art and Play

11

14 16

Rachel Feery + Lisa Stewart Alanna + Matthew Lorenzon Safari Team

19

Michael Vale Shae Nagorcka Playing in Space

22

Sam Smith Lachlan Tetlow-Stuart Ms&Mr

25

Riki-Metisse Marlow Davina Adamson Backwards Future: The art of playing with time credits

28 32


The playful artist: a look at contemporary Australian video artworks 

Rachel Feery

Play is joyful diversion; it can be experimental, freeing, a game, a way to distract and de-stress. It is opposed to seriousness, often nonsensical, and yet is pleasurable. It escapes reality, indulges in make-believe and can produce unexpected outcomes. It has also been acknowledged as a universal activity. Without play there would be no art, no poetry, no risk, no fun. These ideas aren't new they are informed by the work of anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers and scholars who have written about the validity of human play. Firstly, there is the idea that play can be caused by a ‘superabundance’ in the natural order of things (Schiller)1 ; secondly, the idea that play's catalyst is seriousness (Huizinga) 2 ; and thirdly, that art and play can only exist in process-driven art or in the experimentation stages of making an artwork, as MC Nahm argues. 3 Nahm likens play to a sense that is similar to the gratification an artist feels when creating, concluding that playful art is about process rather than traditional aesthetic and material concerns.4 Furthermore, Roger Caillois outlines the sociological characteristics of play behaviour. He prescribes the term agôn for play as a game or competition; alea for play's chance elements and uncertain outcomes; mimicry as a kind of simulation or free expression of social behaviour; and ilinx as a feeling of vertigo or giddiness in play. He also assigns two terms on the fringe of play: paidia, the corruption of play, and ludus as an underplaying of rules and conventions. 5 So how does all of this relate to video art? Consider the birth of conceptual video art in the mid 1960s, a time in art history characterised by experimentalism, when process and performance were as much a part of the artists' concerns as the skill in making an art object. That decade holds a rich history of video artworks that can be read in light of Nahm's conception of play theory, which helps us

1


2

trace back the emergence of the playful artist, its relationship to video art and unconventional forms of art making. With the commercial release of the black and white camcorder came a new generation of artists who experimented with this medium. In these new performance works, or Happenings, they set out to break the art/audience divide by inviting audience interaction. They tested the social limitations and expectations of the audience, shifting viewers' perspectives of an artwork by making them players in the work itself rather than mere passive observers. In Marina Abramovi 's seminal work Rhythm 0 (1974) we see not only video's ability to record an art event but also an extreme manifestation of Caillois' idea of paidia. Abramovi stands in an art gallery alongside a table of objects, with a sign indicating that people can use the objects to do as they wish to her body. These materials, representative of both pleasure and pain, included a red rose, a jar of honey, a whip, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. Abramovi describes the ordeal as a social experiment, stating: In the beginning, the public was really very much playing with me. Later on it became more and more aggressive. It was six hours of real horror. They would cut my clothes, they would cut me with the knife across the neck and drink my blood, and then put the plaster over the wound.6

The performance came to a halt when an audience member loaded the gun, placed it in the hand of the artist and positioned it to her head with her finger on the trigger. Facing possible death, Abramovi realised how unscrupulous people could become if no rules were given. Another instance of play is present in the studio works by Bruce Nauman. These works stemmed from the artist's first couple of years out of art school, a generally unproductive time for him in which he became aware of his inability to make an artwork. Ironically, this anxiety led him to the question: what if this nothingness this mere play was art in itself? In Slow Angle Walk (1969), a real-time video work from this period, the artist documents his creative frustration. It is obvious that Nauman has no concern for adopting a cinematic language: the camera, in a long, single shot, positioned on its side and from above, records him taking rather large and repetitive steps around his studio. This walk mimics the all-too-familiar action of pacing back and forth to come up with an idea. Amusingly, Nauman presents the video as an artwork to highlight his own inability to make a tangible artwork. We also see Caillois' idea of ludus here, as Nauman casually underplays art's supposed rules and conventions. And


although this work did not originally set out to imitate surveillance footage, it can now be read in terms of a voyeurism in its CCTV-like language. Neither Nauman nor Abramovi were overly concerned with the aesthetics of film. If anything, they wanted to distance themselves from the commercial world of polished film and narrative. Video was utilised as a record of real time with little or no editing so that the rawness of the event was apparent. These grainy 35mm art films were as much about the process and notion of play as anything else. Like Nahm's theorisation, they emphasise the process of making an artwork rather than the aesthetic outcome. In the present Digital Age, however, various advanced video devices are never more than an arm's length away. As one can imagine, video art has come a long way since its raw introduction in the late 1960s. Handycams, camera phones and even virtual billboards can now feed online signals for people to openly access. The increased accessibility to digital technology has provided artists with new modes to play with, and video is no longer just a straight recording device but a complex form that can reference film, music clips, advertisements, video-sharing websites and live video correspondence. To adopt Schiller's term nowadays artists have a superabundance of technology at their disposal. In Play, Hannah Raisin, Jemima Wyman, Brown Council and Hit&Miss exemplify play through deconstructing 21st century popular cultural representations and stereotypes of women. Unlike video from the 1960s and 70s, these artists role-play, mimic and perform to the camera, not an audience, exploring gender issues with ironic undertones. Alanna and Matthew Lorenzon collaborate and compete as two siblings would, reconnecting with an intuitive mode of creation as they construct and assemble by hand. The result is a playful tension between aural and visual worlds. Rachel Feery and Lisa Stewart set out to dissolve the art/audience divide by installing a golden boat, equipped with golden binoculars, for visitors to board and embark on a journey. Similarly, Safari Team play out the childhood fantasy. They construct worlds, travelling to various sites, exploring a fictional world through their alter egos. Lachlan Tetlow-Stuart's site-specific practice works directly with a billboard-sized screen that mirrors the architecture of Melbourne's Federation Square and passers by. He cleverly introduces popup animations such as the Statue of Liberty and simulates the building's glass framework exploding. By playing with what appears to be a live-feed screen, he alters the public's perceptions of reality. The works by Ms&Mr and RikiMetisse Marlow each toy with the reality of an event. Marlow presents a damaged analogue music box, altering the sound digitally so that with each rotation the

3


4

tune deteriorates, becoming more digitised and drifting further away from its analogue counterpart. Ms&Mr sample old VHS footage from their childhood and superimpose their adult selves into the video and, in turn, the memory. The artworks also engage directly with the language of movies and how they can induce sentimentality as well as provoke emotive responses. Sam Smith's work is a reference to the limitlessness of the digital edit the idea that one edit can generate so many different viewpoints and thus reinvent the memory of an event. Michael Vale works with the Smoking Dog, a figure that stems from lowbrow or kitsch art. Vale humanises the dog, depicting him in a tuxedo observing the moon through a telescope with a pipe in his mouth and a paintbrush in hand. As this peculiar figure is assigned to a filmic language, viewers are led to believe its place in art history. The following artists adopt filmic elements such as editing, staging and sampling to play with one's perceptions of time, reality and memory. Timothy P Kerr's video acts as kind of intermission from logic and seriousness, cheekily mimicking the entertainment value of YouTube videos bred on the internet. Jane Korman's work, on the other hand, illustrates how play can serve as a relief from trauma and emotion. A rarity in the YouTube world, her artwork both celebrates her family's survival and confronts the emotional weight of the Holocaust, capturing the essence of an elevated form of play: freedom. These unique moving-image works draw from a rich history of video art. As well as illustrating what it is to be a playful artist, they make vital contributions to contemporary Australian video art at large, spanning performance, new media, animation, short film and installation. 1 JC Friedrich Von Schiller, Letters Upon The Aesthetic Education Of Man, Part VI. Letter XXXVII (from Literary and philosophical essays: French, German and Italian. With introductions and notes. Collier, New York, c1910. Series: The Harvard classics, 32), p59, 1794. Schiller theorises that play is not a necessity but rather, is an expression pleasure, of independence and free movement. Without it there would be no harmony between logical and illogical thought. 2 J Huizinga, Homo Ludens, Beacon Press, Boston, 1955, (first published in 1939). 3 MC Nahm, ‘Some Aspects of the Play-Theory of Art’, Journal of Philosophy, vol. 39, no. 6, 1942, pp. 148—160. 4 Ibid. 5 R Caillois, Man, Play and Games, trans. M Barash. Free Press of Glencoe, New York, 1961. 6 Interview with the artist, March 2010, MoMA Multimedia, available at: http://www.moma.org/explore/ multimedia/audios/190/1972. OTHER SOURCES: J Ehrmann, C Lewis, P Lewis, ‘Homo Ludens Revisited’, Yale French Studies, No. 41, Game, Play, Literature 1968, pp.31-57, Yale University Press. C Rau, Psychological Notes on the Theory of Art as Play, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 8 No. 4 (Jun., 1950), pp. 229-238, Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The American Society for Aesthetics.


How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Humour and ‘play’ in contemporary feminist performance LAURA CASTAGnINI

One night while writing this piece, I asked some friends to help me come up with ‘a feminist joke’ for the title. The responses ranged from: ‘Q. What do you call a blonde who flies a plane? A. A pilot, you misogynist!’ to the less positive: ‘Third-wave feminism is funny enough in itself… no jokes required.’ However, the most popular suggestion of the evening was: ‘Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? A. That's not funny!’ While the joke initially made me giggle, it also caused me to reflect upon the widespread belief that feminists are, indeed, not funny. Since the women's rights movement reared its head in the late 1960s, feminism, and in turn feminist art, continues to be understood as dull and authoritative. Spurred by the political urgency of the times, feminist artists of the 1960s and 1970s used an authoritative voice to attack gender stereotypes and rectify the objectification and neglect of women throughout art history. Certainly much feminist art of this period is now considered aggressive, However, four of the videos presented in Play suggest direct and confronting. contemporary feminist artists are now less concerned with imposing their views and more interested in ‘playing’ with gender, often exaggerating and staging femininity to highlight feminist concerns. In contrast to the targeted and serious nature of earlier movements, these works by Hannah Raisin, Jemima Wyman, Hit&Miss and Brown Council utilise humour and light-hearted experimentation to forward a feminist discourse. Hannah Raisin, for example, presents herself in Sugar Sweet (2009 10) as a swimsuit-clad beauty frolicking in a clam, the ocean lapping quietly at her feet. It could be an image taken straight from a Botticelli painting. However, Raisin's clam is a blue kiddie pool, her swimsuit is made from fruit loops, and she splashes herself with cheap UHT milk. Her obliviousness to the

5


6

resulting soggy fruit loops only exaggerates her mockery of feminine stereotypes. Sugar Sweet echoes the parody of objectification presented in early work by the other beautiful Hannah (Wilke), who would affix vagina-shaped chewing gum to her naked body, or perform a striptease in front of Duchamp's Large Glass. This work, in which Wilke's beauty played a prominent role, provoked charges of narcissism; the artist was criticised for confusing ‘her roles as beautiful woman and artist.’ 1 Raisin's frolicking, on the other hand, could never be taken for narcissism. While Raisin draws attention to issues similar to those raised by Wilke, she pushes her parody to extremes of silliness; Sugar Sweet delivers the same feminist message but also makes the viewer laugh. More subtle in both its humour and its feminist politic is Jemima Wyman's disorienting explosion of colour, Trilogy (2001). The main screen of Wyman's video collage begins with a woman (we presume the artist) stumbling blindly through a child's playroom with her head covered in tight fabric. Cutting and changing abruptly, the video captures several costume changes (including a large blue canvas and a pink-coloured sack), before suddenly cutting to a close-up of a woman's face distorted by simple Apple Mac software. Two small boxes that have been inserted into the main screen simultaneously present seemingly random imagery, including a close-up of the toys and a boy interpreting sign language. Wyman's use of ‘colour, fast motion, humour and dizzying video effects’ 2 creates a frenetic energy which is embodied for the viewer. The work therefore allows the viewer to empathise with the subject; it is a phenomenological embodiment of feminist concerns. Spectatorial anxiety is also presented in Killing Two Birds (2004), a humorous one-liner with darker undertones by Melbourne collective Hit&Miss (Tai Snaith and Narinda Reeders). The video documentation of their work, first performed at Yarra Sculpture Gallery, depicts the duo playing dead inside a white Volkswagen Beetle with a red tube running from the exhaust pipe into the vehicle. Dressed in bridal dresses, wearing red lipstick and clutching white iPods, the artists perform a tableaux using only their signature red and white colours. We see audience members, both perplexed and amused, peer inside the car. About halfway through, one man, laughing, summarises the viewing experience: ‘You might start to think they're really dead!’ Indeed, this statement forms the underlying darkness in the piece: what if they are ‘really dead’? Would you, a respected citizen / educated art audience member / concerned viewer, call the police or stop the performance? Exploration of such spectatorial anxiety dates back to pieces such as Lips of Thomas (1973), in which Marina Abramovi , after cutting and whipping herself, resolved to lie naked


upon an ice cross until an audience member interrupted the piece by removing the ice blocks from underneath. In comparison, Killing Two Birds seems quite tame; Hit&Miss put themselves at a risk no more serious than a parking fine, yet they do so with a humour that is unprecedented in early feminist performance. Of the Play collection, Brown Council's video Runaway (2008) perhaps best epitomises the playfulness and irony prevalent in contemporary feminist practice. Filmed against a black backdrop, a female figure (played by all four artists interchangeably) runs towards the camera in slow motion. The dramatic soundtrack builds tension, as lights flash onto her face and body until suddenly she is squirted with (very fake) blood and climactically rips off her singlet. Exposed underneath is a caricature of the glistening body we expect to see in such Hollywood scenes: a tan-coloured t-shirt with big breasts drawn in black marker. Brown Council's attack upon stereotypical images of women in the media is a typical practice in earlier feminist art, particularly of the 1980s. However, their appropriation does not contain the didacticism found in earlier feminist art. Runaway's emotive theatricality drips with sarcasm and, like Raisin's Sugar Sweet, its earnestness is too exaggerated to take seriously. Brown Council and Hannah Raisin's artworks in Play mock stereotypical imagery of women in the media while resisting the authority of earlier feminisms. Presented alongside Killing Two Birds by Hit&Miss and Trilogy by Jemima Wyman, Sugar Sweet and Runaway offer a contemporary feminism which draws the viewer into performance through laughter and playfulness rather than direct politics. It is possible this technique is a conscious decision made by contemporary artists to avoid the singular label ‘feminist art’ a term which many believe excludes all other subject matter. It is also possible this trend exemplifies the marginal position that women's rights hold in the larger sphere of contemporary politics. Certainly, it proves that the landscape of feminist art is shifting and changing along the tides of postmodernism towards something more ironic and self-referential. Most importantly, however, it proves that stupid joke wrong. Feminism can be funny. Q. Why did the feminist cross the road? A. To get away from you, arsehole!

1 LR Lippard, From the Centre: Feminist Essays on Women's Art, New York, E.P. Dutton, 1976, pp. 126. 2 Jemima Wyman, Artist Statement, 2001.

7


8


BROWN COUNCIL (NSW) Brown Council is an Australian

‘perform’. Their video installa-

video/performance art collabo-

tions and live performances have

ration consisting of four artists:

featured in festivals, exhibitions and

Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore,

events both nationally and interna-

Kelly Doley and Diana Smith. Since

tionally.

meeting at Sydney's College of

ity converges with the filmic in an

Fine Arts in 2005, Brown Council

emotive explosion of fake blood,

have established and maintained

fake sweat and fake tits. Through

a strong collective arts practice

the darkness a female figure runs

exploring the intersections between

in slow motion, stained in blood

performance

theatre.

with her top ripped open, and then

Brown Council reclaim, embody

in a bloody finale is killed in action

and tear apart images, sounds

and frozen in time. This is a close

and actions from visual culture to

encounter with a spectacular cliché:

interrogate how it is that we should

an onscreen body up close.

art

and

In Runaway, theatrical-

HANNAH RAISIN (VIC) Since completing a Bachelor of

can give way to a synthetic and

Fine Arts at the Victorian College

sterile beauty as the epitome

of

Raisin

of what is considered sexy. But

continues to live and work in

who can measure the unnatural?

the

Arts,

Hannah

has

Raisin's Sugar Sweet explores

exhibited in both solo and group

such territory, with the idea that

Sugar Sweet milks

every thought has a perfect image

Melbourne,

shows.

where

she

synthetic

encapsulating its essence, binding

femininity. Is embarrassment a

it to the world; the ideas and key

rejection of oneself? Why is it

icons we attempt to mimic (the

that if we believe we will become

heightened colours and flavours)

somebody else we will be happy?

are as unstable and as artificially

A dismissal of our natural bodies

enhanced as packet cereal.

the

symbols

of

a

9 LEFT Runaway, 2008, performance video, 5:55 duration. Audio track: ‘Runaway or Stay’ by Kevin Blechdom (from Eat My Heart Out, Chicks on Speed Records 2005). Video: William Mansfield. BELOW Sugar Sweet, 2009–10, performance video, 3:12 duration.


JEMIMA WYMAN (QLD) Jemima

Wyman

divides

her

time between Brisbane and Los Angeles. In 2007, Wyman graduated with a Master of Fine Art from California Institute of the Arts, and she now works across

Hit&Miss (VIC)

various mediums including insta-

Hit&Miss is an ongoing perfor-

and white. The work of Hit&Miss

llation, video, performance, photog-

mance

between

revisits the 19th century idea

Tai Snaith and Narinda Reeders.

of tableau vivant (French for

a three-part video that depicts

Both

the

‘living picture’) with the aim to

different kinds of bodies in flux,

Victorian College of the Arts

create frozen moments in time,

and in relation to each other and

where they completed a Bachelor

little deaths, immortalised fail-

space. Boundaries are contiguous,

of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2003

ures and the palpable tension

as objects and subjects merge

and 2004 respectively.

For the

between sex and death. They

in a brightly coloured phenom-

past seven years, Hit&Miss have

often choose to pop up unexpec-

enological experiment captured

been practicing the art of painful

tedly in all sorts of situations

and manipulated on video. This

stillness, amongst other things.

such as public spaces, exhibi-

virtual world mimics the real space

Each performance features the

tions, parties, flights, shopping

outside the monitor, as the viewer

girls dressed identically in red

festivals and car club rallies.

raphy and painting.

10

Trilogy is

collaboration

artists

studied

has a physiological experience through the affective space that is created by the use of colour, fast motion, humour and dizzying video effects. Trilogy was installed with two other video works in an installation called Replika Project.

LEFT Trilogy, 2001, performance video, silent, 7:10 duration. ABOVE Killing Two Birds, 2004, performance/installation, 2:18 duration.

at


All work and no YouTube makes Jack a dull boy JADAN SPROULE-CARROLL

As someone once wrote, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ That person then went on to freeze to death in a snowdrift after trying to murder their family with an axe, or so the story goes. Nonetheless, there is truth in the statement. But with the rise of YouTube, hyperlinks to user-created videos now flitter by the millions through office email servers. A few are enlightening, many are hilarious, and more are merely the equivalent of a penis scrawled on a scrunched-up piece of paper and flung across the Year Seven Science classroom. With a few clicks you can find yourself trapped in your own virtual Library of Babel filled with keyboardplaying cats, Welsh talent quest contestants and kids falling off Segways. However, as in Jorge Luis Borges’ imagined construct of an infinite and unsorted library housing all of humankind's written words masterpieces forever hidden amongst the gibberish1 there too are some hidden diamonds on the world's largest video sharing website. Jane Korman's Dancing Auschwitz is one of those rare diamonds in the YouTube maze. First exhibited in 2009, it was not until the video was uploaded to the site that things really took off. In July 2010, the video went viral and within the space of a few days was viewed almost 500,000 times (before being removed due to a copyright complaint from Universal). It sparked a storm of debate, quickly gaining news coverage across the world. Korman's intent was to create a work that changes the way in which the public, desensitised by the hundreds of Hollywood movies on the subject, views the Holocaust, by highlighting the triumphs of the survivors .2 In his column for The Age, Danny Katz described the artwork as ‘one of the most unexpectedly impressive Holocaust masterpieces ever made, on one of the most unexpectedly pitiful budgets'. 3 To create her video, Korman flew with her family (including her father, Adolek Kohn,

11


12

a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp) to Europe, visiting Auschwitz and other sites significant in the persecution of Jews during World War II. Here they filmed themselves dancing to Gloria Gaynor's 1978 disco hit ‘I Will Survive’. Aesthetically the video is charmingly rudimentary, with amateurish choreography shot by a shaky camera. The family members dance in and out of time with one another throughout the video, and at some point Adolek throws his hands up and walks away. Despite this and perhaps because of it the work is deeply moving. Very similar to the hit YouTube video Where the Hell is Matt (32 million views), in which Matt dances at various iconic locations around the world, Dancing Auschwitz transcends the dagginess with dark humour and a deep message. The final scene of the video, an old piece of film footage featuring the artist as a child dancing in hauntingly slow motion with family members, beautifully contextualises all that we have seen before. We see that for this family, play through dance has become a rite of passage, an act of catharsis the ultimate expression of freedom, rebellion and the joy of survival. Due to the copyright dispute with Universal over the use of Gloria Gaynor's song, Dancing Auschwitz is presented in silence. Testament to the effect the video had is the fact that unauthorised versions of it have sprung up on YouTube with the original audio included. These versions have since attracted hundreds of thousands more viewers. While ideally it would be preferable to present the original version, ‘I Will Survive’ still haunts the silenced version. Once you know that it is meant to be there, it is impossible to see the video without thinking of the track. In his artist statement, Timothy P Kerr describes his work as a comment on screen-based popular culture, using and playing with YouTube video conventions such as displacement, appropriation and re-contextualisation. The absurd and simple The T1 19 (2009) does just that. The video itself consists of just a still image of an empty Coke can and some cardboard messily taped together to resemble an aeroplane something that would not look out of place in a kindergarten craft room with a voice-over describing the incredible, cutting edge quality of the aircraft we are looking at. It is a reminder of the wild imaginations of children at play, of a time when a Coke can really is a supersonic fighter jet. Ironically, one can easily imagine this very funny video racking up thousands of hits and quickly becoming a YouTube sensation. Like Marcel Duchamp's 1917 work Fountain, which challenged the art conventions of the time with its stark presentation of a found object (a urinal), there is a certain mischief to calling a Coke can with cardboard wings The T1 19. This time though, the focus is on the conventions of the screen-based arts and


YouTube, and like those who viewed the Fountain we are left both amused and flummoxed, wondering: ‘Is this art or just a great joke?’ While the two videos are very different, both Dancing Auschwitz and The T1 19 work with and play with the conventions of popular YouTube videos. Incongruous images, like Korman's family dancing under the imposing gates of Auschwitz and the sinisterly untruthful ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (‘Work Will Make You Free’) sign, are disarmingly effective, along with the appropriation of the disco track. And if it isn't a talking animal, nothing guarantees instant internet success like controversy. The premise of the video by its very nature a group of people dancing at the site of one of history's greatest atrocities, a place of unfathomable sadness and solemnity, a place where no one may have danced before is controversial. There is no doubt that many people, rightly or wrongly, were offended. But it is also likely that a large proportion of the half-million or so viewers who clicked on Korman's video did so expecting to be shocked and offended, and what many found was something far more poignant and profound.

1 JL Borges, ‘The Library of Babel’, Labyrinths, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1970. pp. 78. 2 ‘Auschwitz “I Will Survive" Dance Video Creator, Jane Korman, And Father, Adolek Kohn, Speak Out’, The Huffington Post, 14 July 2010, available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/13/auschwitzi-will-survive_n_645067.html 3 D Katz, ‘The Shortest, Sweetest Holocaust movie’, The Age, 22 July 2010, available at: http://www. theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-shortest-sweetest-holocaust-movie-20100721-10l6r. html?rand =1279719717208

13


14 JANE KORMAN (VIC) in

dance’ to Gloria Gaynor's 1978

Melbourne, Australia, but has

pop hit ‘I Will Survive’. The family

spent 18 years living in the

had set out to retrace Jane's

Middle East, mainly in Israel. In

parents' past throughout Eastern

2009, Jane returned to Australia

Europe. The song, played from a

Jane

Korman

was

born

where she has since branched

laptop, accompanied their danc-

into performance and video art.

ing at the numerous sites of

She holds an Honours degree

trauma. The artist states that ‘the

in

Monash

dance expresses an attempt at

Dancing

celebrating life, but also evokes

Auschwitz (silenced) depicts the

absence, loss and mourning.’ The

artist and her family (compris-

version featured in Play is a new

ing three generations, with her

incarnation of the work without

father, niece and four children

the Gloria Gaynor track (due to

present) ‘improvising an awkward

copyright issues).

Fine

Arts

from

University, Melbourne.


TIMOTHY P KERR (QLD) Timothy

P

Kerr

completed

a

Bachelor of Aeronautical Design and Engineering in 1994 at the University for the Gifted, England. From 1995 to 2009 he worked in The Royal Australian Air Force as an Engineer. During these years he also completed a Bachelor of

Visual

Arts

Queensland Technology.

(Honours) University

at of

Timothy's practice

critiques, engages, mocks and

15

manipulates screen-based popular culture through play, humour and overt absurdity. In The T1 19, an image of an extremely ad hoc toy aeroplane, made from pieces of rubbish and a Coke can, suddenly comes into view. While the image stays rigid, the audio track states facts about the plane's cuttingedge design, technical construction, refined materials and the massive

financial

costs

that

are involved in making such an astonishing aircrafts. The T1 19 works directly with the codes and conventions used in mainstream Hollywood films as well as the incongruous, often nonsensical, poetic of YouTube.

LEFT Dancing Auschwitz (silenced), 2009–10, performance video / short film (with digitised Super 8 footage), partially silent, 6:33 duration. ABOVE The T1 19, 2009, video, 1:18 duration.


Art and play Jessie Scott

16

What is play? Colloquial understandings vary from simply ‘mucking around’ to the weighted belief that all play is practice for a future survival skill. Freud pioneered the belief that play can reveal subconscious thoughts or emotional states too difficult to verbalise,1 a concept underpinning art, music and play therapies. Sergio and Vivien Pellis argue that play, above all else, is an autotelic activity; that is, it has its own rewards beyond any other functions it may serve.2 For example, ‘playing basketball in a team, with the goal being to win, is not play, but shooting hoops by yourself is.’ 3 In other words, you may get better at playing basketball from shooting hoops on your own, but that's not necessarily why you do it. So a key feature of play is that it is fun and has no forgone conclusion the ‘fun-ness’ being an adaptive sweetener of sorts, ensuring you reap the embedded survival rewards: brain organisation, hunting skills, or indeed how to nail a slam dunk. In an art context, play is an integral part of the creative process. Artists may engage in the pleasure of drawing, documenting, moving, singing or even just talking, in order to generate new ideas that might later be refined into finished artistic outcomes. But what about art that is, in itself, play? This kind is often derided as self-indulgent especially now, in the hangover of the supremely self-righteous and ambitious political art of the 20th century. There is a sense that working in an open-ended way with no goal in mind, and enjoying it too, is a selfish act. On the other hand, the artist's enjoyment can suffuse the work with a joyful energy that is transferrable to the audience, unlike in more resolved contemporary practices. It could be argued that true play, where artists are free to work in open-ended, process-based contexts, is not simply a style of art, but an absolutely vital element of the continued expansion of what art can be, and one of the engines which drive innovation. In the collaborative projects of Alanna and


Matthew Lorenzon, and Rachel Feery and Lisa Stewart, we see the results of art that has open-ended play at its core. In the production of Green Eye Hill Sound (2010), the Lorenzons adopt the five rules of play set out by French theorist Roger Caillois as the framework for their collaboration.4 The resulting video work is a deceptively simple series of drawings combined with music, where it is impossible to tell which came first the sound or the image, so balanced are they and the light, open result belies the sophistication of the work behind it. The vast array of complex social interactions that are engaged by play following and leading, risking and rewarding, guessing and assuming are often seen and celebrated in performing arts but are rarely acknowledged in finished video the way that they are here. Furthermore, through a conscious embodiment of the childhood fascination with colour, light, movement, shape and sound (and an awareness of its key role in brain development) Matthew and Alanna reflect on both the biological and sociological features of play. In their video Echoes of Gold (2008), Rachel Feery and Lisa Stewart embrace the language of film and television, incorporating it into their own practice, rediscovering a magic in the lantern that had been all but lost for most of us. Their wilfully mawkish, unpolished adoption of ‘special’ effects (particularly the use of scale models) creates a wonderment based not on incomprehension (as with cutting edge 3D or CGI) but its opposite: intense identification with handmade imperfection. That their work is redolent of myriad childhood art projects, produced in the no-fail environment of primary school where all are artists, makes it particularly affecting. The miniature trees, hand-painted backdrops and stand-ins for nature (all meticulously crafted and casually knitted together with grabs of TV noise in a loose, non-linear sequence) take you back to a time when you could suspend disbelief more easily. They gently show you something simultaneously old and new, knowing and naïve, with childhood imagination and play at heart. With slightly higher production values, and conscious of traditional mise en scène, the works of both Safari Team and Michael Vale are less engaged in open-ended play, yet are no less infused with a sense of fun and energy for it. In Safari Team's Dig To China Part III (2008–09) we have artists dressed up in costumes, romping through fantastical and natural landscapes, wielding props and scripts. Delicate balances between levity and gravity, between form and content, and an allusion to childhood playacting are all there. However, the stagey blocking, elegant composition, and poetic speechifying make it less play than playfulness: a subtle twisting of extant filmic and literary tropes. The video is rear-projected onto the back of a tent, received via a black plastic tunnel. Encouraging the audience to get down on their hands and knees or

17


18

sit cross-legged to view the work, allows a sense of adventure to carry the content of the video through to its execution, drawing viewers into the play and casting them in a similarly adventurous role. Juxtaposing grandiose language with patently ordinary heroes, Safari Team poke fun at all self-serious hero narratives, be they literary, filmic or of our own imagining. In Michael Vale's The Servants of the Moon (2007), this play-acting is taken even further and generalised to art history. Vale creates a cock-eyed world, inhabited by a series of recurring characters, and inserts it into a meticulously reconstructed history of the ‘real’ world. By contrasting the familiar and the absurd, and donning the trappings of authority, he seeks to unsettle linear narratives of history and canonical views of art. To this end, the motif of ‘Le Chien qui Fume’, or ‘The Smoking Dog’ (a refugee of countless variations of ‘Dogs Playing Poker’), is celebrated as the ultimate symbol of lowbrow art and recast as a valid agent of an alternative art history. Like that of Safari Team, Vale's work presents film representation as an elaborate, preferential construction, where elements extraneous to the central narrative are edited out. By restoring some of this chaos to his parallel history, he highlights the popular compulsion towards linear narrative. In the Play collection we can see both a connection and a comparison to be drawn between art and play. As the Lorenzons infer, an attraction to colour and form ensures we forge important neural pathways in our brain. That this manifests in autotelic activities the naïve painting, play-acting and modelmaking resurrected in Feery and Stewart's and Safari Team's work means some of us will continue performing them throughout our lives, expanding on methods and outcomes in innumerable ways. From this perspective, art is dependent on play rather than a mere aesthetic trend; play is intrinsic to art in every way. And who is to say art was not in fact a vital outcome all along one of the many that play has tricked us into? Art should not be viewed in terms of a progression from some basic place to a more complex, refined and presumably predetermined state. Such is a bunk view of evolution, as Vale's work explores. There is no final point on the horizon, no perfect state for us or for art; it must keep moving, and we must keep moving with it playing, mucking around, and making it up as we go along.

1 S Freud, The case of ‘Little Hans’ and the ‘Rat Man’, Hogarth Press, London, 1909. 2 S & V Pellis, The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2009. 3 S & V Pellis, quoted directly, 2010. 4 R Caillois, Man, Play and Games, trans. M Barash. Free Press of Glencoe, New York, 1961.


LEFT Echoes of Gold, 2008, video installation, 7:19 duration.

19

RACHEL FEERY + LISA STEWART (VIC) As explorers of imaginary realms,

of mysterious origins. A combi-

Rachel Feery and Lisa Stewart

nation of handcrafted environ-

combine sound, sculpture, video

ments, lo-fi special effects and

and installation to take people on

an

a multi-sensory adventure. The

track come together to produce

pair met at Monash University in

a heightened sense of fantasy.

Melbourne. Rachel completed a

Viewers are invited to board a

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours)

golden boat and embark on a

in 2008; Lisa, a Bachelor of

whirlwind tour that scouts the

audiobook-inspired

sound-

Visual Arts (Photomedia) in 2007

cosmos for traces of glitter.

and a Bachelor of Arts (Film and

The trip holds an array of destina-

Echoes

tions: a desert plain, coral reef,

of Gold is a video-simulated

haunted wood, winter wonderland

voyage across uncharted lands

and a magic mountain.

Television) in 2009.


20

ALANNA + MATTHEW LORENZON (VIC) Alanna Lorenzon is a visual artist

Melbourne.

who primarily creates mixed-media

works in theatre, visual art instal-

installations

involving

Matthew Lorenzon

sculpture,

lation and sound art, drawing on

drawing, sound and text. Her work

a range of techniques from 20th

concerns itself with the expression

century sound design and music

of subjective human emotion and

composition, bringing them into

thought. Poetry is a running theme

contact with other artistic disci-

of her practice, used as a means of

plines. He is also a scholar and

expressing indeterminate notions.

writer.

Alanna draws inspiration from the

Alanna and Matthew eschew prede-

natural world

both as an idea and

termined approaches to art produc-

an actuality

using this imagery

tion, creating an artistic tug of war

for its metaphoric qualities. Alanna

between the systematic and the

attained a Bachelor of Fine Arts

intuitive (as well as between audio

(Honours) at Monash University,

and visual elements) in their work.

Like siblings in a sandbox,


SAFARI TEAM (VIC) Safari Team (Blaine Cooper, Jon

and Violet

Oldmeadow and Lillian O'Neil) have

their way through crust and core,

dive, smash and dig

been working together since 2005.

guided by maps concocted from

The team formed while studying

myths of what lies beneath, around

Fine Art at Monash University in

and above the earth's surface.

Melbourne. Pursuing a high-energy

The work explores the accidental

DIY aesthetic, the trio utilises a

doctoring of history by the brain's

broad range of mediums including

desire to imagine.

video, installation, performance, collage, drawing and sculpture. Safari Team Dig to China — Part III is the final instalment of the team's treacherous journey through the centre of the earth. After pummelling magma, swimming through lava, battling colossal squids and rowing the silver seas, the team presents their epic tale in a full video installation. Three nom de plume explorers

Pipe, Wings

MICHAEL VALE (VIC) Michael Vale lectures in paint-

trio of moon-worshippers suggest-

ing and film at Monash and RMIT

ing an alternative view of the world.

Universities in Melbourne. He has

The idea springs from the 1960s

exhibited widely as a visual artist

TV series The Addams Family.

and has also worked as a set

Like Gomez and Morticia, the dog

designer, scenic artist and TV

and his moonglow companions

The Servants of the

seek a different kind of joy to the

Moon belongs to a series of films

average Australian sunbather. Like

featuring ‘Le Chien qui Fume’ (’The

members of a secret society, they

Smoking Dog’). The dog, repre-

each project a version of thems-

senting the under-explored possi-

elves onto the circular cinema

bility of histories untold, is one of a

screen that floats in the night sky.

writer.

LEFT Green Eye Hill Sound, 2010, animation, 6:22 duration. BELOW Safari Team Dig to China Part III, 2008–09, video installation, 11:51 duration. BOTTOM The Servants of the Moon, 2007, short film, 4:58 duration.


Playing in space Shae Nagorcka

22

The act of play is inextricably linked to space; location and context shape experiences of play, regardless of the particulars surrounding the act. Likewise, our expectations of space and environment limit our connection to play. An event that is traditionally bound up with creativity and release so often becomes a controlled and mannered thing, informed by rules and themes. Similarly, in much contemporary art, play is often presented as an event a tie-loosening reprieve from our stuffy lives. But what of a play experience that deconstructs and illuminates? We, the viewer, are in a receptive state during play, open to looseness, chaos, the freeing In Lachlan Tetlow-Stuart's A Someone pleasure of the irrational and fantastic. Else's Problem Field (2009 10), we are presented with a video document of a work displayed upon the Federation Square big screen during December 2009. The screen itself is usually linked to a live video feed of the square, providing bored high school students with the opportunity to offend tourists. Tetlow-Stuart's skill is in providing this familiar space of play; appearing on a live camera has a time-honored tradition of waving, pulling faces and simulating sexual intercourse. The ease with which most of us slip into this type of play becomes clear, as the viewer is presented to Tetlow-Stuart in a reactive state; we are playing, and our guard is down. Just as soon as the well-meaning tourist has waved at their projected self, they quickly find they have destroyed the roof of the ACMI building and transplanted the Statue of Liberty. Tetlow-Stuart creates an invisible greenscreen coat for Federation Square, simultaneously building and destroying both our spatial relationship with the site and our confidence in our own agency within a previously well-defined space of play. Tetlow-Stuart states that 窶連 Someone Else's Problem Field is simply an illusionist magic trick that only exists as an artwork


through the experience of its audience.’ In experiencing play, we are at our most vital when the rules of the game or space recede. Tetlow-Stuart's role of conjuror is an apt one in this work for all the familiar modes and spaces he provides us with here, he still ends up turning us into Godzilla. The subtlety of the way in which the illusion is cast is striking not only do we become increasingly aware of our physical space of play, but we are also reminded of the illusory and controlling factors in the spaces we inhabit outside of play. In the small ambition of a magic trick, Tetlow-Stuart seeks to move the work beyond the realm of the artist and into an augmented reality of unalloyed play and connection. Permutation Set (edit) (2010) sees Sam Smith and thirty-two others restaging a scene from Truffaut's 1973 film Day for Night. Each of the eight shots contained within the scene were reshot from eight different angles, combining to a possible 16.7 million edits. The short statement accompanying the work is an interesting one: ‘The end product is as much a formal exercise in cinematography and editing as anything else.’ 1 Both Smith and Tetlow-Stuart seem to share an appreciation for the reductive a formal exercise, a simple trick. Perhaps we can locate this in the nature of their works, where play, as an experience, is often reductive in quality. Smith's space of play is in our shared memory of filmic conventions; even without having studied film, most people can ‘feel’ a bad cut, or readily understand the logic of shot/reverse shot dialogue sequence. Our intense familiarity with these tropes allows Smith, echoing the approach of Tetlow-Stuart, to playfully deconstruct the familiar touchstones of film and camera. The film acquires a hypnotic quality, with scenes of characters moving through space, first person perspectives, and shot setup and break-down all working as a percussive whole. Consider the rhythmic nature of the staccato cuts that make up each potential 20-second section in the context of play. The structures the viewer has come to expect are chopped and screwed, cheekily remixed into a curiously familiar space of filmic play. Smith, like Tetlow-Stuart, locates the act of play as one bound up in the detritus of the remembered and the experienced. To achieve an experience that jars us out of a comfortable familiarity, that very familiarity itself must be manipulated. This highlights one of the more curious powers of Smith's work: for every randomised sequence that feels staggered and jumpy, there will be another that hovers at the edge of déjà vu and liminal understanding. We know this space, and we know these people, but their movement, their strategy it is all foreign. Tetlow-Stuart and Smith both seem to inhabit the role of gleeful reductivist, eschewing grand gestures of interactivity or collaboration and instead focussing upon the base

23


of understanding that they are assured of with the viewer. Perhaps this role is necessitated by the similarity of their artistic goals (at least in the case of these works) the illumination of previously staid structures and concepts, the knowing deconstruction of the increasingly mannered spaces that we inhabit. Perhaps this writer is merely projecting; maybe these are just my own preoccupations. Perhaps the psychic mirror-effect of these works is intentional. Or perhaps not. Because for all these complex ruminations remember all of this is just a formal exercise and a simple trick.

24

1 Artspace Sydney, 2010, available at: http://www.artspace.org.au/gallery_project.php?i =124


SAM SMITH (NSW) Sam Smith is a video and installation artist currently based in Berlin, Germany. He has exhibited in Australia, Japan and New Zealand with screenings in Australia, Brazil, China,

Ireland,

Japan,

Mexico,

Netherlands, Thailand and Spain. At once an artistic critique of cinema and an exposure of the technology behind video imagery, Sam Smith's practice integrates sculptural form and digital media. Form and matter

25

disport themselves within fantastical worlds; reality and the digital realm repeatedly clash, and sci-fi

LACHLAN TETLOW-STUART (SA)

references abound.

Lachlan

Smith's

public

of becoming a professional magi-

practice re-contextualises the filmic

media arts practice is concerned with

cian, Lachlan's ambition is to create

language through restaging and

the interrogation of urban environ-

surprising and playful experiences

editing. Permutation Set (edit) is

ments and their subversion through

through a creative arts practice.

a video work that expands a single

the use of technology in magical

Although this practice often relies

film moment into a seemingly infinite

and unexpected ways. Through this

on tricks facilitated through tech-

loop of changing perspectives. The

play with public perception, Lachlan

nology, its aim is to transform the

work features a cast of 32 people

seeks to facilitate collective com-

act of a ‘trick’ into an experience

restaging a 20-second scene from

munal experiences that exist outside

that invites the public to reconsider

the 1973 film La Nuit Americaine

conventional arts spaces.

their perspective of public space

(Day for Night) by Francois Truffaut.

to achieve his childhood aspiration

Each of the eight shots that make up the sequence was reshot eight times from different camera angles, totalling 16,777,216 possible edits. ABOVE Permutation Set (edit), 2010, video, 8:54 duration. RIGHT A Someone Else's Problem Field, 2009–10, site-specific new media, 0:59 duration. Audio track: composition by megacube.

Tetlow-Stuart's

Failing

and how they exist within it.


26

MS&MR (NSW) Art, College of Fine Arts, UNSW,

together, proposing an alternative

Study For Retrograde

onscreen relationship. As with

& Richard nova Milne (born in

Motion (installation) is the artists'

their other home movie interven-

Australia and Canada respec-

domestic thought experiment in

tions, Ms&Mr wipe the video's

tively). Ms&Mr approach their

special relativity (Einstein's theory

mnemonic power by closing the

practice as a form of domestic

relating to motion and inertia) and

disjuncture between the subjec-

science

to

home movies. In this dual-channel

tivity of time and the recording

their work is their admission to

video and installation, Ms&Mr

of it. Like renegade protagonists

and misappropriation of scien-

appear to change their relative

at the cliff of a mountain of tape,

tific narratives that, although

contexts in chronological time. A

Ms&Mr resume authorship of

plausible, remain in the realm

pre-teen Richard (recorded and

their archived biographies and

of practical fiction. In 2010 they

extracted from 1988 VHS foot-

the implied eye of the camera in

attained a collaborative Master of

age) and an adult Stephanie (in

order to propagate their homeg-

Fine Arts at the school of Media

HDV in 2008) are choreographed

rown fictional sciences.

Ms&Mr

is

the

Sydney-based

art collaboration of Stephanie

Sydney.

fiction.

Important


RIKI-METISSE MARLOW (VIC) Riki-Metisse Marlow works with

and manipulated. The perfec-

video, sculpture and sound to

tion of the machine has been

generate aural and visual connec-

violated and what remains is an

tions and disconnections that

uneasy ghost of the original. In

help us understand how sound

Memento Mori the image of the

and image place us within space.

wind-up music box is used as a

Walking the line between sound

reflected memory of childhood.

and music, Riki-Metisse tries to

Often found in little girls' jewelry

find out where one begins and the

boxes,

other ends

or if in fact they are

mimics the spin of the amputated

simply one and the same. These

ballerina which is so often used

works are the visible and audible

as the visual representation of the

results of these experiments with

sweet song being played.

sound and object

outcomes that

are residues and marks from the initial act. In 2008 she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) at Monash University, Melbourne. Memento Mori shows a single music box mechanism playing and winding down to a halt, while the song it plays is layered, repeated

LEFT Study For Retrograde Motion (installation), 1988/2008, video/installation, dual channel, silent, 1080p. Enlarged pages 236 & 245 from Our Universe, 1980, ed. Roy Gallant, 2:21 duration (loop). RIGHT Memento Mori, 2010, video, 5:57 duration.

here

the

mechanism

27


Backwards future: the art of playing with time Davina Adamson

28

‘Memories are constructions made in accordance with present needs, desires and influences.’ – The Skeptic's Dictionary1 ‘Now, remember: according to my theory, you interfered with your parents' first meeting. If they don't meet, they won't fall in love, they won't get married and they won't have kids. That's why your older brother's disappearing from that photograph. Your sister will follow, and unless you repair the damage, you'll be next.’ Dr Emmett Brown, Back to the Future, 19852

Technology has always been instrumental in recording time; it has been employed for our obsessive self-documentation, to capture history's great torrent of sentimentality. These records affect memory, and become the exterior or ‘legitimising’ vehicle in our relationship with time, confirming our individual past. Significant objects or mementos have a similar function: they locate our emotion in specific points in time. When there is a fire, it is photos and inherited trinkets that take precedence over passports and tax documents as things we must save. In the continual march of obsolescence, changing technology sets the pitch, affects the light and alters the sharpness of our personal histories. Transforming and therefore reclaiming authorship over these vehicles of nostalgia is an idea addressed in the works Study for Retrograde Motion (installation) by Ms&Mr (1988/2008) and Memento Mori by Riki-Metisse Marlow (2010). The way we use our private mementos and personal documents as connectors to other points in time make these everyday objects into lo-fi time machines. Travelling through


our past leads us gently along the curve of time towards the future, where we find the inevitability of death our mortality and its effect on the present. Both of these works mix down old and new technologies to create a parallel truth, a synthetic perspective, bringing authenticity into question. The idea of personal relics as time travel devices is flipped and reframed in the various ‘home movie interventions’ 3 performed by Ms&Mr. Stephanie and Richard nova Milne have made their relationship the centre of their practice. But instead of allowing their personal mementos to take them on an emotional journey, they have intervened and ‘choreographed’ 4 shared memories, more in the vain of ‘domestic science fiction’ 5 than nostalgia. Their earlier work involved probing into their deeper past and inserting images of each other into fragments of visual archives of their childhood, including early drawings and family footage on VHS. These interventions extend the dimension of their love to include love on another time continuum, a kind of constructed extension of their relationship in some fourth dimension. They were experiments in ‘practical fiction’,6 using film, drawings and objects to invent and explore an imaginary past. However, in Study for Retrograde Motion (installation) the artists move away from the intimate hyper-sentimentality of their earlier work towards an exploration of time travel. In this work we see a pre-teen Richard, recorded on VHS in 1988, loping across a moon-like landscape, with Stephanie inserted into the scene digitally in 2008. In matching yellow raincoats like magnets attracting and repelling, they perform a mesmerising dance in looped time. Is it backwards, or is it forwards? In continuous motion their steps echo out in an eerie parallel universe, allowing the viewer to accompany them on this cut-and-paste experiment in perceived time. By playing with the authority of memory by manipulating our means of accessing it, Ms&Mr mischievously expose the holes in the reliability of our memories and, in turn, our entire conception of the past. Riki-Metisse Marlow's work investigates the nature of machines and their manipulative abilities in creating new sound. Memento Mori is a simple yet intriguing piece that also deals with technological objects as memory triggers or portals to other points in our emotional histories.7 We see a maimed and wounded music box ripped from the body of a little girl's jewellery box, limping and swaying across an empty white plain; its unsettling, discordant tune generates disquiet, a sense of things not right. The tiny mechanism spins, whirring like the wings of a dragonfly caught in a bottle. A second stream of sound begins, reminiscent of the tinny lament of a singing card that nags you to ‘get well soon’. In fact, it's the same music box as before, generating a miniaturised, ‘electronic’ sound,

29


30

recorded on a metal tin with a contact microphone. By recording and layering sound using new technologies in conjunction with the ‘pure’ or original sound, the expected sense of girlish whimsy is replaced with ‘an uneasy ghost of the original mechanism’.8 This melding of genres reminds us of the always-changing gimmicks in commercially available sound, and the multitude of la petit mort in this disposable consumerist age. As this analogue machine plays out its tune to a halt, the mechanical ballerina is usurped by the Digital Age. This lullaby from a disturbed sleep is possibly the sound of Schubert's ‘Serenade’, but we are unsure of this the machine has been violated, producing an altered tune, teasing the listener with its almost familiar, almost nostalgic yet non-locatable melody. Through this meddling there are infinite possibilities to transform sound, each a certain collision of space and technological material. Marlow's Memento Mori is not only a funeral march for the small deaths of the past Industrial Age (and for the many already obsolete moments of genius in the Digital Age) it is also a kind of trick being played on our memories. As with Ms&Mr's work, its juxtaposition of old and new technologies creates a dissonance that brings into question our relationship with time, providing a jarring reminder of the fallibility of memory and its dependence on ever-mutating technology.

1 RT Carroll, ‘The Skeptic's Dictionary’, 1994–2010, available at: www.skepdic.com/ 2 Back to the Future, 1985, Universal Pictures / Amblin Entertainment, dir. Robert Zemeckis. 3 Ms&Mr, Artist Statement, 2008. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 ‘Memento mori’ translates as ‘remember you will die’, stretching back to Roman times, relating to signifiers in art and religious iconography, to keep one conscious of one's mortality. 8 Riki-Metisse Marlow, Artist Statement, 2010. 9 French for ‘the little death’.


31


THANK YOU

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Short Play is most appreciative of their financial support of this initiative. Short Play extends its gratitude to the artists who have contributed their works to the first edition, with further thanks to the team of creatives who have generously given their time, ideas and energy to the first volume.

32

This project would not have been possible without the support of a number of local arts organisations, businesses and individuals. These include Aphids, dianne tanzer gallery + projects, Head Quarters, Monash Print Services, Next Wave and Tape Projects. A special mention to: Joseph Antonios, Thea Baumann, Gillian Brown, Anna Buchanan, Glenda and James Feery, Ben Hobson, Iolanthe Iezzi, Mima McDonnell, Drew Pettifer, Lisa Stewart, Dianne Tanzer, Lara Thoms, Willoh S Weiland and David Young. The artists would like to thank the following funding bodies / representative galleries for their support: Ms&Mr: Fehily Contemporary Sam Smith: Grantpirrie Jemima Wyman: Milani Gallery Safari Team Safari Team Dig To China

Part III: WLTWSAETLV

Lachlan Tetlow-Stuart A Someone Else's Problem Field:

Michael Vale The Servants of the Moon:

Quarterbred


33


34

VOLUME 00:01 PLAY

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Short Play Volume 00:01 Play  

Play, the inaugural volume of the Short Play publication, brings together a selection of 14 artists who employ elements of play within their...