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Empire state was an enterprising multimedia event staged in December across Tasmania (Launceston, Burnie and Queenstown), by Empire Studios, a production group dedicated to making electronic media more widely accessible. The Hobart-based artists in this collective are mostly recent graduates of the School of Art in Hobart and have experience across media such as video, film, photography and computer-generated image-making.

Matt Warren is a member of one of Hobart’s more successful alternative bands. Mixed-media artist Sally Rees is probably best known for her anthropomorphic sculptures. Sean Bacon is a photographer and video artist. The work of Tim Stone and Stephanie Carnevale includes painting, video and computer-generated image-making.

With its intriguing ‘space-race’ retro logo and promotional material, and its combination of video, light-works, internet, soundscape and large-scale light projections, Empire state is an ambitious collaboration. At each of its sites, large-scale projections from sources including the work of local artists and schoolchildren, were screened onto the exteriors of local landmark buildings. The installation incorporated a light show and was given an aural dimension by the inclusion of contemporary recorded music. In Queenstown, musicians Annette Van Bethlehem and Karen Burgess sang on a phone link-up amplified to the audience.

The project was not presented in Hobart, but its closing in Queenstown (a mining town on the remote west coast) was relayed to Hobart via a live internet broadcast set up at CAST, coinciding with the opening of CAST’s inaugural Member’s Exhibition and so ensuring a ready-made audience.

The whole performance took two hours and created a festive atmosphere amongst onlookers, many of whom had never previously experienced any experimental or performance art. It was admirable that Empire State was presented in regions which have too few opportunities to host major arts events and exhibitions, even those of the more conventional variety.


Empire Studios, Empire state, Launceston, Burnie, Queenstown; December 4-12, 1997

RealTime issue #23 Feb-March 1998 pg. 23

© Di Klaosen; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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