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artful contemplation

cheree mack at one with a scott morrison installation

Cheree Mack is a Canberra-based writer.

Ballad(s) for Quiet Horizons, video still, Scott Morrison Ballad(s) for Quiet Horizons, video still, Scott Morrison
WITH A LITTLE PERSEVERANCE AND THE RIGHT STATE OF MIND, SCOTT MORRISON’S BALLAD(S) FOR QUIET HORIZONS IS A REWARDING EXHIBITION, OFFERING A UNIQUE SPACE FOR INNER REFLECTION. LIKE STARTING POINTS FOR MEDITATION, THE THREE VIDEO INSTALLATIONS IN CCAS MAIN SPACE USE THE FAMILIAR IMAGERY OF GRASS, CLOUDS AND LEAVES TO SPARK A PERSONAL AND EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. TRIGGERING MEMORIES AND AWARENESS OF CURRENT THOUGHTS, BALLAD(S)... IS SOMEWHAT OF A ‘MAKE YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE’, DEPENDENT ON THE DESIRE AND CAPACITY TO STUDY THE WORKINGS OF YOUR MIND.

Transforming the open gallery space into a dark haven, Morrison mesmerises his viewer, the senses adjusting to the rhythmic light and sound, eyes drawn to four monitors sitting in a pile of dirt and wood chips. In this first installation, Les echos de l’ocean, a large wall projection of a 12-second shot of grass has been edited and processed so that the stems become mere lines and shapes, flickering rhythmically. This clean-cut imagery contrasts with the bed of earth and wood, its smell and texture alerting us to the physicality of the installation; as if under hypnosis, we are aware of Morrison’s spell but are unable to stop ourselves succumbing.

Morrison reinforces this repetitive imagery with a complex layering of sound. A musical score, derived from the original audio, complements the motion of the blades of grass and is layered over the sound of wind. In the background, the music of the other two projections floats in and out of my consciousness. Turning away from Les echos de l’ocean, I almost fall over a large monitor which reflects the large grass projection. On another in the the back corner of the room, the image of a blue, cloud-swept sky builds a horizon for the endless field of grass. The constant interplay of sound and image means that Ballad(s) for Quiet Horizons simultaneously comprises one whole and three discrete ballads, immersing the viewer in a harmony of sight and sound.

By providing headphones for two of the three installations Morrison allows for more intimate ruminations over each of the works. For A push and a shove but we fell out of this together, the audience is invited to don earphones, blocking out the sounds of the other two installations. Suddenly, the blurry imagery projected on the adjacent wall becomes clearer. Slowly, the layered music and rhythmic overlaying of leaves—glowing in the darkened space—engulfs the senses. The burning desire to make sense of the exhibition dissipates. Within the bubble of the headphones, I am content to sit, gradually becoming aware of a jumble of racing thoughts.

In Drift, the ambient sound arrangement of the previous two works becomes background to Adrian Klumpes’s more structured musical score. Memories of afternoons spent lying on my back, finding shapes in the clouds above, come flooding in as I watch Morrison’s peaceful projection of sky. Compared with the flickering speed of its companion works, Drift imbues a feeling of serenity.

Ballads for Quiet Horizons highlights how the layering and intertwining of images and sounds shapes responses, forming textured personal journeys, but without beginnings, middles and endings, journeys as rich as everything we bring to the work and how far we let ourselves surrender to it.


Scott Morrison, Ballad(s) for Quiet Horizons, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Oct 12–Nov 24

Cheree Mack is a Canberra-based writer.

RealTime issue #82 Dec-Jan 2007 pg. 43

© Cheree Mack; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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