Wild City

  • ArtPlay Gallery Exhibition until May 20, 2018  / This project was seeded by City of Melbourne through ArtPlay’s New Ideas Lab  /  Video by Teagan Glenane

Wild City has been exhibited in the ArtPlay Gallery as a collaborative sculpture where children expressed their thoughts and ideas about creating animal habitats in urban spaces and cities. The project was concerned with providing an experience for learning, making and creative expression through a series of workshops for children that was based on real environmental issues. In the workshops, I provided a miniature sculptural city and introduced children to ideas of human and animal architecture and showed hybrid examples of co-existence. The children then drew, planted and constructed their ideas onto the mini city turning it into a lush green space that considered, and included wild animals as citizens in urban spaces. The city became a hybrid of human and animal habitat. The children’s work was curated into the final collaborative exhibition along with a video that captured descriptions of what they made and why it was important to them.

I was able to engage 15 Melbourne based urban ecologists, researchers and conservationists in the creation and delivery of this project. This clarified ideas on what challenges wild animals encounter in ever expanding human landscapes, and how these issues are currently being tackled. These specialists helped me to further my research in urban co-existence with the wild animal and connect it to the specifics of Melbourne. Many of them actively participated in the workshops with children, delivering interesting talks on species that live in the area and what they require as habitat.

Here is a link to the longer video (shown in the gallery)   Wild City Video – 7 mins    or watch the wrap up video below

 


Shapeshifters

  • 2018 / Melbourne Knowledge Week  /  Tech Lab Collaboration  /  ArtPlay

Shapeshifters was a collaboration with audio visual artist Georgie Pinn Electric Puppet, Daniel Calvo Mosster Studio, and dancer Fiona Cameron. Using technology we explored ideas around myths and hybrid creatures to create an immersive experience. I worked on body altering costumes made from rescued industrial materials and second hand clothing to evoke animal embodiment. Children were invited to move and dance through the techno-natural environment of interactive floor projections and sprite-emanating silhouettes in what I thought became a contemporary pagan ritual that celebrated connections to nature and animal kin.


Piece of Mind

  • 2018 / Recycled plastic  /  Sculpture By The Sea, Bondi, NSW / Currently located at Melbourne University ELC  /  With thanks to New Tec Poly

I have been thinking a lot about plastic, and how this human-made material is now a part of contemporary ecological cycles, it is in our waterways and has entered the food chain. Soft plastics are generally used once and thrown into landfill. I want to explore the possibilities of revaluing waste plastic by reconstituting it into sculptural form, turning this materials negatives (such as its durability and longevity) into positives. By partnering with leaders in the recycling industry I explored methods of transforming used plastics into sculptural form.

We have brought forth multitudes of new materials like plastic, that ecological systems must now deal with, on land, earth and sea. If we think in evolutionary timelines, it is happening at a rapid pace. If we acknowledge that we live in the age of Anthropocene, where human interventions are effecting earths systems, we must also recognise that as the most intelligent animal, the human is placed as custodian of the pivotal partnerships within ecosystems that all living communities occupy. Our waste is a part of the earths system, the cycle of matter and energy that we depend upon.

I was challenged by what the kooky philosopher Slavoj Žižek said, while standing in a pile of trash at a rubbish dump, he said … “a true ecologist must love all this stuff”. I have forced myself to look. It was while living in the Netherlands completing a Masters, studying ‘place’ under Lara Almergui that I followed the local trash trail, visiting waste plants in industrial sites. The experience left me wanting to reconsider the practice of placing long lasting plastics into landfill or burning single use items.

I have long been concerned with the material required to make outdoor sculpture, and struggled with the dilemma of making strong, durable, long lasting sculptural works on a large scale, while being sensitive to ecological cycles. Re-using existing materials, such as the mountains of plastic waste currently going into landfill in alarming quantities, seems like a no brainer!

NewTecPoly have an Australian first extruder that has the ability to recycle co-mingled soft plastics. I have been welcomed into the initial experimental phase of this material research. There are many unknowns and challenges in creating sculptural work with this reconstituted waste plastic, and much experimentation required.

The brain is an interesting form to represent, as it is the central control device that makes us who we are. All animal brains assess their environmental conditions and adjust their behaviours to ensure survival.


The Nature of Material

  • 2017 / Recycled plastic / Yarra Sculpture Gallery 

During my research into the use of recycled soft plastics as sculptural material, a series of test moulds were made. These small brains have a variety of interesting flaws, these pieces have been placed together in an installation connected by a network of neurons.


Synthesis – episode 1

  • 2016 / digital images   / Video shot at The Oostvardersplassen, Netherlands / video and sound installation exhibition at BAK, Utrecht, Netherlands   

In this work I have camouflaged a human/animal synthesis, upon a representative of the nature conservation establishment to examine the complexities of co-existence within an urban space. The transformation expresses sanctioned co-existence with the wild animal and challenges delusions of separation. I have worked through concepts of relationships to nature through the specifics of a site of re-wilding within the Oostvardersplassen Nature Reserve in The Netherlands.

I have blurred reality and storytelling… I have used the body of the Ranger as my site of imaginative intervention within the real world of institutionalised nature conservation while referencing deities and pagan costumed rituals from European history. Today our faith lies in ourselves, with appointed representatives as guardians, backed by science.

BAK – Gallery


Frequencies

  • 2015 / digital images / Installation: string, UV  / Fort Gagel, Utrecht, Netherlands / research conducted at MaHKU under Lara Almarcegui

Wild animals exist within our urban spaces, often unseen and unnoticed. They have their own borderlands and migrate within topographical maps made of animal habitats.

On a cold, snowy day in March 1985 an artificial bat “cave” was inaugurated by the town-mayor. A photograph records a group of school children dressed like bats at the official opening. The photograph was taken by Dr. Aldo M. Voute of the State University of Utrecht, a bat researcher that instigated artificial hibernation sites. Many monuments of the military, such as forts and bunkers, are now protected micro bat roosts having evolved into nature reserves. Bats are now dependent on these synthesised urban habitats.

The micro bat fulfills its role in ecological systems by eating its own body weight in insects. Their population in Europe is declining but they have received legal protection. Since then, bat researchers have been carefully constructing and recording the use of different artificial bat housing, to identify successful bat box designs and roost sites.

The nocturnal wanderings of these animals have created misplaced fears throughout cultural history.Their ability to see in the dark, at the time when we are most vulnerable, has placed these creatures of the night, into the category of horror in myth and story telling. It is scientifically acknowledged that humans share the ability to perceive objects in darkness through the same method as the bat. The blind, using echolocation, can experience images using sound waves that bounce off surfaces to convey spatial information, effectively seeing with their ears. It is a learned skill. A developed perception of the world. Philosopher Thomas Nagel posed the question “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”. He concluded that where consciousness occurs in animal life that the experience is fully comparable in richness of detail to our own, but in the example presents sensory apparatus so different from ours that the problem is impossible. It is a proposition not expressible in a human language. We can hardly imagine the subjective character of their experience. But perhaps we can imagine … for a moment, seeing with our ears. This is the background to my work ‘Frequencies’ where I explored nonhuman perceptions in the darkened space of Fort Gagel, in Utrecht. Built in the early 1800’s as a military post, the underground cavern held perfect darkness to install a work that visualised how a micro bat might hear an architectural space and formulate a spatial image of its environment. The sound waves are visualisations of how a bat sees with its ears.