A Partnership for Uncertain Times
A Partnership for Uncertain Times, the exhibition, is part of a bigger project developed between the University of South Australia and the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). The project commissioned four artists to research and develop innovative and experimental artworks which highlight the relationship between science and technology. It includes a workshop, artist talks, and text and video essays, culminating in the exhibition currently showing at the Newmarch Gallery in Prospect.
Focussing on the process and creative inquiry rather than the finished outcome, the artists were afforded a year-long timeframe to explore and experiment with their artworks.
The exhibition highlights the uncertainty of the world we currently live in due to the impact of things such as war, biosecurity and climate change. In addition to this, artists working across disciplines often work with collaborators and, in these uncertain times, that might require the artist to renegotiate and reimagine their work.
Brad Darkson, for example, has created a work called Never Too Hot, which is focused on relearning traditional land management practices through the lens of fire and sound. Darkson, a First Nations artist, has been working with the Kaurna fire management team for some time and he aspired to incorporate this into his practice. The project provided an opportunity to explore his experience further and create a work that fits into his broader practice, which involves family, community and caring for country and culture.
As an artist-in-residence at Carrick Hill in 2022, Catherine Truman created the work The Taken Path, which is the result of walking the same path through the grand estate once a month and documenting it. The path traverses several different landscapes, from the heritage gardens to the grey box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) woodland which surrounds the property.
To document this process, Truman collaborated with Ian Gibbins, an Emeritus Professor of anatomy and neuroscientist who is now a video poet. This collaboration brings together the different viewpoints of the artist and scientist, resulting in an end product that crosses disciplines and fields of knowledge. Observing the changes along the path through the different seasons, Truman’s work explores our relationship to gardens and plants while looking at the broader issues of climate change and biodiversity.
Deirdre Feeney’s work, Perceptual Illusions, explores how the movement of an image and its depth of field depends on both the technical apparatus and the viewer’s perception. Using a 19th-century animation system combined with contemporary methods of making, Feeney is exploring optical effects and how these engage with the viewer’s perception.
For this project, Feeney has collaborated with micro-engineers Mark Cherill and Sudhakar Sajja at the Australian National Fabrication Facility to create bespoke optical mirrors. Her fascinating digital projectors combine her research into how light passes through an object and different focal planes to create a moving image that explains depth of field.
The fourth artist in the project is Niki Sperou, who has been the resident artist at the Department of Medical Biotechnology at Flinders University since 2006. Much of Sperou’s practice combines art, science and culture, and how they shape human identity. In A Partnership for Uncertain Times, she presents MESH: Interspecies Empathy, which explores the need for an empathetic relationship to heal wounds.
Sperou believes we need to take more responsibility for our actions, with particular reference to the impact technology is having on our environment. For example, the digital prints on display create harmony between art, science and technology. They reflect her experiments with biotechnologist Peng Su into potentially using seaweed to replace plastic in new products for industry and medicine.
A Partnership for Uncertain Times highlights and embraces the uncertainties of cross-disciplinary artistic practices and, while these four artists incorporate science and technology into their work, they use different processes to do so. These artworks are provocations for further conversations, and the artists are inviting the audience to consider some important issues of our time.
A Partnership for Uncertain Times: Art, Science and Technology is showing at Newmarch Gallery until July 14. A Q&A panel discussion is being presented this Saturday, July 1, from 11am-12.30pm. More details about the broader project and the featured artists can be found on the ANAT website.