Between two Breaths – A short experimental documentary exploring the world of freediving through the eyes of Amber Bourke, Australian female champion, 2021. At: https://vimeo.com/577123525
Just finished a burst of work on this piece to enter into the Shextreme Film Festival, 2021. It was fun listening to Amber’s thoughts about being in the moment and what happened when she thought she had a world record! You’ll have to watch….’the movie’!
From beneath the surface, an underwater cinematographer records the moment a large wave forms and breaks above. The event passes quickly, but in pull, that moment lasts infinitely.
Projected on one wall, a moving image shot at extremely high speeds follows the intensively slow movement of the large wave forming under the water. On the opposite wall, GPS data – tracking the cinematographer’s movements while filming – is visually reworked as a 3D animation of a small bubble, pulled by and pushing against surrounding forces. Designed as two seamless replays of one moment, pull presents an expanded sensorium.
The sonic elements are immersive, suggesting again the multiple perspectives from which any ‘single’ event can be sensed. pull is an audiovisual exploration of time and embodied perception, using water as a force that exists outside humankind’s own short ‘moment’ in geological time. It considers the relations between our senses and the environment through differences in time and scale.
pull was one of only 4 works commissioned by Experimenta Media Arts and The Australian Network for Art and Technology. It features in Experimenta Make Sense: International Triennial of Media Arts and premiered at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Festival from 2 Oct – 11 Nov 2017. The work will travel around Australia until the end of 2020 to galleries including The Lock-Up, Newcastle, Tweed Heads Regional Gallery and 7 others.
On average, we take 16 breaths per minute, 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. If we live to 80, we’ll take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime.
Yet…time feels infinitely longer when you hold your breath.
Using very slow underwater cinematography, the video installation hold, explores our relationship to water and breathing, which can feel both terrifying and compelling. How does time slow down as breathing changes? Focusing on people able to hold their breath for extended periods, such as surfers and free divers, the work considers how fear gives way to a different experience of durational time. What can we understand about our most fundamental action from such extreme experience?Fragments of interviews with medical professionals, surfers and free divers drift through the soundscape. A singer, trained to sustain notes, chants a Sephardic song. The sound places us ‘in the middle’ of held durations of notes and breaths. hold explores the shifting multi temporalities of water as it changes form and as it is experienced from above and below its surface.
hold premiered at Ideas Platform, Artspace, Sydney October 3- October 27, 2019.
évasion (duet) is a 2-channel moving image and audio installation that restages Harry Houdini’s famous straightjacket escape. It is the second iteration of a multi-channel video and responsive environment called évasion that was created in 2014.
The work was shown at Bega Regional Gallery for the exhibition Motion: the body and movement in contemporary art, 17 July –22 August, 2015 and will tour regional galleries in 2016.
In the late 19th century, early cinema allowed many illusionists and magicians to shift from stage to film, most notably Houdini and Méliès. ‘Évasion’ appropriates optical effects from this period, creating a contemporary version of illusionism in an immersive media environment. Like the early cinematic technologies for conjuring onscreen appearance and disappearance, ‘évasion’ uses new media optics to probe whether onscreen action narrative really unfolds before our eyes.
8 cameras surround an escape artist and film his performance. Submerged in water, he attempts to unshackle himself from a straightjacket. The installation itself echoes the film shoot with 8 vertically positioned flat screens recreating his holding ‘tank’. As the audience circumnavigates the installation, his escape unfolds from conflicting perspectives. Each screen plays back its own angle and tempo of events. The circumnavigation promises to reveal how the escape ‘works’. But the installation is a perceptual illusion; more of the escape unfolds yet less of the trick is revealed. The overall aesthetic evokes a slightly sinister and Dickensian atmosphere.
‘Évasion’ uses innovative locative sound design, which usually positions audio at particular spatial coordinates and responsively reproduces this audio when the audience is physically present in the same place. Instead, ‘évasion’ will deploy locative sound inversely; the soundscape will seem to precede the presence of audience members circulating around the installation. Sensors will detect audience position and trigger audio to travel ahead of the listeners’ position. Like the escape artist, the soundscape always escapes from the audience. The overall aesthetic will be that of direct and fully present perception promising to unfold yet persistently escaping.
Here’s how the work looked at UTS Gallery, Sydney, 2014. We’re really happy with the results, especially the beautiful octagon/tardis structure we designed that was built by Bart Groen of Objet B’art.
We went the extra mile and also created our own customised praxinoscope to sit directly outside the space in which évasion is installed. This helps to contextualise the work and its relation to pre-cinema practices. But it’s also a really beautiful object in itself and takes the animation aspects of the moving image somewhere else!
We have started work on our new work évasion (New Work Grant, 2012–13, Australia Council for the Arts). We currently have a residency at Artspace, Sydney until the end of this year. And here are the beginnings of our 8-channel interactive installation emerging in the space
In July this year, we shot the footage for the new installation featuring Ben Murphy as our escape artist. We are reworking this material taking inspiration from early cinematographic devices such as the praxinoscope and zoetrope to help us rethink relations between vision and movement in perception. The installation will playback sequences of the footage, across 8 separate flat screens to both break-up and restitch the performance of his escape. As the audience circumnavigates the installation, Ben’s escape unfolds from conflicting perspectives. Each screen plays back its own angle and tempo of events. The circumnavigation promises to reveal how the escape ‘works’. But the installation is a perceptual illusion; more of the escape unfolds yet less of the trick is revealed.
We are also working on the sound design, which will work with auditory illusions such as the shepard tone, an illusion that functions via pitch circularity, and with audio spatialisation. The soundscape will seem to precede the presence of audience members circulating around the installation. Sensors will detect audience position and trigger audio to travel ahead of the listeners’ position. Like the escape artist, the sound always escapes from the audience. Overall we will evoke a perceptual interplay between direct and fully present sound that promises to unfold yet nevertheless escapes resolution and/or auditory delivery.
Here are some images documenting our .gif work, titled After Méliès, showing during the Born in 1987, show at the new video wall in the Photographers Gallery in London.
Katrina Sluis, the curator, has done a great job in bringing the gallery into the (recent) present by putting together a continuous screening of works especially made by 50 international artists to celebrate 25 years of the .gif ( and hence accessible digital imaging).
Off the back of HokusPokus, we were asked to contribute a ‘gif’ to the new digital wall as part of the opening of the Photographers Gallery, London. 40 artists were asked to create a ‘gif’ file – not an easy thing to work in an outmoded format! Michele reworked a segment from HokusPokus and turned it into a new piece: After Méliès, emphasising the looping and stilted qualities of both early cinema and early digital ‘cinema! Here’s a link to the project
HokusPokus opened at Watermans Gallery, London on April 14, 2012 as part of their International Festival of Digital Art. Hocus Pocus is a 3-screen interactive artwork that uses illusionistic and performative aspects of magical tricks to explore human perception, senses and movement. It takes inspiration from recent neuroscientific interest in magic as a way to understand the relation between vision and movement in human perception.
Filming a professional magician performing illusions that use optical trickery such as sleight-of-hand (manipulation of objects) and the flourish (display of a magician’s skills), we will create a performance made from a video database of tricks. How those tricks unfold depends on the participant’s movements and reactions in the installation space. Unseen sensors – including pressure sensitive floor tiles and infra-red trip sensors – will form the interface between the audiovisual material and participants’ actions. For example, movement towards a particular screen whilst a trick is being performed may challenge the magician into changing it somewhat – the entire process may speed up, or participants’ focus may be shifted suddenly to an adjacent screen. Importantly, the interactivity is designed so that the magical ‘action’ unfolding within the audiovisual material is in direct relationship with how people are moving around and engaging with the space itself.