New Media Exhibition

New Media Exhibition at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art

Queensland Gallery of Modern Art

Brisbane boasts two public art galleries, both at the cultural centre on the south bank of the Brisbane River. The newest of these is the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), which opened in December 2006.

The Premier of Queensland, currently Anna Bligh, bestows a biennial art prize of $75,000 for ‘new media’. An exhibition of the works submitted for the 2010 prize opened on 28 August at GOMA. The shortlisted works from seven of the contestants, representing several Australian states, are listed below:

Philip Brophy: ’10 Flaming Youths’ – video

Nigel Helyer: ‘Vox AEther’ – sound sculpture

Chris Howlett: ‘Metropolis – Parts I-III’ – video animation

Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine: – ‘You Were in My Dream’ – interactive video

Wade Marynovsky: ‘The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie’ – robots

Soda-Jerk: ‘AstroBlack: a History of Hip-Hop’ – remix video

Lynette Wallworth: ‘Still: Waiting’ – interactive video

The winning entry, You Were in My Dream, is described on the gallery website as follows, and can be viewed by clicking on the link:

You Were in My Dream 2010 is an interactive animation experience, which invites audiences to enter a child’s vivid imagination. In the shadowy jungle, a small figure lies asleep on the ground. With a click of the mouse, the viewer awakens the figure and assumes the role of the protagonist on a mythic journey through an unexplored landscape. The viewer’s face is integrated into the work through a live video feed, cut-out animation enhances the playful, childlike dream experience suggested by the title.

You Were in My Dream, Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine

I found the winning choice surprising, but I suppose it reflects the heavy emphasis placed by GOMA on children’s art programmes, reinforced by the choice of Queensland artist Claire Roberstson, who runs groups at the Children’s Art Centre, for the Premier’s New Media Scholarship of $25,000. Much more entertaining, to my mind, is the performance art of Wade Marynovsky and his robots. His installation can be seen in this short video:  The Hosts: A Masquerade of Improvising Automatons .

The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Wade Marynovsky

Marynowsky’s work is described in this extract from the exhibition publicity.

With this work, Wade Marynowsky pays homage to the Spanish-born filmmaker Luis Buñuel and his 1972 film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. The film’s plot concerns six friends whose attempts to dine together are repeatedly interrupted by increasingly bizarre scenarios. Marynowsky’s bourgeois robot is dressed in a costume designed by Sally Jackson to recall women’s fashions of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, a period when clockwork automata were highly popular. These self-operating machines were created in the form of animals or, more often, human figures.

Boris the Bourgeois talks to a visitor

Chris Howlett’s video animation Metropolis would probably appeal to gamers, and is based on the video game Sim City Societies, which allows the user to construct and then destroy 3D animations of cities,  which may have beeen  a drawback when competing for a government sponsored prize.

Metropolis, Chris Howlett, video animation

Nigel Heyer’s (aka Dr Sonique) work is described below:

Helyer’s new series VoxÆther is an extension of his BioSonic sculptures, which he began making in 2008, and reveals the artist’s ease with art, science and technology. The works are based on the forms of radiolarians, which are tiny single-celled organisms found in the oceans as holoplankton.

VoxAEther, Nigel Helyer

The sculptor describes his work in the short video below:

Philip Brophy’s video ‘Flaming Youth’ is likely to appeal more to a more youthful and perhaps less intellectual audience, and is described by the curator (Russell Storer) in the following terms:

10 Flaming Youths features portraits of ten young people undergoing a kind of metamorphosis: generating a flickering aura of fire as they near the front of the screen, before fading away again. Fire is a transforming and purifying agent, offering renewal as well as destruction, yet these adolescents seem to emerge from their experience unchanged. Brophy sourced the faces from those of models on youth marketing websites, translating them into drawings and then vector images for digital animation.

10 Flaming Youths, Philip Brophy

The term ‘new media’ includes a mixture of traditional media, such as film, images, music and the spoken word, enhanced by the interactive power of computer technology. New media, and its acceptance by gallery directors,  provides artists who have the necessary technical skills with an opportunity to expand the scope of fine art.  Most if not all of the works in this exhibition have either been shown elesewhere or were produced quite some time prior to the exhibition. The generous prize offered, therefore, does not seem to have stimulated new works, as one might have hoped. GOMA has dedicated exhibition spaces for new media installations, so we can expect more exhibitions of this kind in the future. It is a moot point whether this will find favour with the public or possibly be at the expense of the more traditional forms of art to be found in the Queensland Art Gallery next door, which has hosted several memorable, international exhibitions.

Tony Thomas is a retired bureaucrat living in Brisbane, Australia. He studied painting at art school in the 1960s, and has a degree in economics from the University of Queensland. His interests include: philosophy, writing fiction, poetry, and blogging.

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