Today I started a 2 week artist residency at Falls Creek in the Victorian Alps high country where unbelievably in the middle of summer it snowed. This meant that I got to see snow for the second time in my life and all day I got to enjoy a mountain that was veiled in fog, which made me quite happy as I have spent a lot of time in the past hunting for fog.
In 2015, I worked with George Main at The National Museum of Australia and developed the work Haunting which, amongst other things, created a series of artworks that were captured by projecting relevant images into fog, watch Haunting video here. That project was a 3 month journey of waiting through cold winter nights to capture the right conditions, but today as I arrive in Falls Creek amidst middle of the day thick fog, I start to think that I might be able to project into the fog here, potentially even from the comfort of my accommodation.
To begin with I set up my camera to film the slow moving fog outside my window.
My residency here will include the following things:
To continue to develop new ideas and new thinking that moves closer to understanding what it means to collaborate with the active characteristics of place, the shifting environmental conditions, rather than imposing my own artistic will entirely. How do I create new work in collaboration with a living landscape? I aim to explore this by creating new experiments and trying to document ideas about process, ethics and other considerations of working in such a way.
I aim to understand the importance of this place culturally; predominantly through researching the Bogong Moth which traditionally was used as a great food resource, being so high in Protein. The moth lives it's short 12 moth lifecycle between three states and territories, and this Alpine Region is key to that cycle.
Whilst here I will be projecting images of objects from the National Museum of Australia’s Institute of Anatomy Collection; specimens in jars. By projecting these animals back into the landscape I am interested in whether we can feel an emotional connection to these animals presented like this. I experimented with this idea in Dubbo last year as part of the Artlands Festival read catalogue here. This project which I call Specimen will hopefully tour to 5 locations around regional NSW and Victoria as part of a bigger suite of projects which I call Shadows and Consequences. These projects all explore the diverse shadows and consequences that happen as a result of decision making and continues a very active thread in my arts practice that feels that in order for people to navigate complex issues practically, they must first learn to process then emotionally. With the arts as a perfect vehicle to bring together people of all backgrounds; cultural leaders, scientist, historians, business people, community members and more, it is possible to use deep process of storytelling via art making to aid the emotional navigation of some of our most complex issues. “The conventional scientific method separates causes from one another, it isolates each one and tests them individually in turn. Narrative, by contrast, carries multiple causes along together, it enacts connectivity. We need both methods”.1
I will research the animals that have been listed as endangered in the area such as the Smokey Mouse, Powerful Owl, Mountain Pygmy Possum, Spotted Tree Frog and the Broad Tooth Rat.
In an area like Falls Creek, which is so dependant on the climate for it’s continue social and recreational use, what effects does a changing climate have on this place? Not just for the seasonal tourists and staff but for the communities that call this place home. Whilst here I will work with local custodians, school groups, artists and staff to try to draw some conclusions, thoughts or ideas about all of this.
1 Tom Griffiths, The Humanities and an Environmentally Sustainable Australia, Australian Humanities Review Issue 43 2007, http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-December-2007/EcoHumanities/EcoGriffiths.html (accessed 2nd September 2016)