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ON A BUSTLING FRIDAY NIGHT IN BRISBANE’S BURGEONING SOUTHBANK PRECINCT, IT WAS HARD TO MISS THE LARGE CROWD GATHERED AROUND WHAT LOOKED LIKE A GLOWING BLUE HIVE-LIKE STRUCTURE, THE [V3] ART+ARCHITECTURE SHOW.

Flanked by the two long, thin canals that run parallel to the Brisbane River and QPAC, the 3D multiscreen installation consisted of five large screens arranged in a hexagon with a space left for entry and perambulation. Projectors were unobtrusive, mounted high on the outside, and though the breeze was fresh that night, the screens, slung between sturdy poles and carefully buttressed, remained resolutely smooth. The steel scaffolding securing the screens with an impressive array of clips and struts, was the first sign that this was no ordinary video art event. As key instigator, Rachel Barnard of the Architectural Practice Academy, noted, “we put a lot of effort into making sure the screens would stay up and withstand the wind.”

Barnard explains how the project came about when she and other architects from yarch.Q, a committee of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, “were talking about films that are architectural and how it would be great to get a cinema to show a series of these...We’d attended a workshop involving a 360 space simulator to view in 3D moving image analysis of space, which we loved, but hadn’t had a chance to explore it further. So we thought, let’s do it. We then came up with a whole series of ideas and 8 months later actually did it!”

The cinematic reference is important, because the second part of the show, in which the works were screened sequentially, after artists’ introductions, felt a lot like a short film program (albeit a multi-screen, outdoors one). The film program effect was offset by the opening and closing events in which spectators saw images of themselves in the space on the night. Rachel explains: “On arrival, there was a delayed live feed playing—in this way the viewers encountered themselves from the past. This process of looking back in time at oneself aimed to titillate but also emphasise the temporal nature of new media art works. Similarly at the end of the night there was a delayed live video feed which showed the construction and the event itself at the end of the night.”

The program of works included video art by local artists and architectural new media presentations. Christina Waterson’s Concealed Revealed is normally hidden in the urban fabric of everyday life. A series of still images interwoven with video pieces, the fast-paced montage of Concealed featured scenes of quotidian reality overlaid with the kind of analytic frameworks and schematic diagrams architects are privy to but of which the rest of us are generally unaware.

A different kind of architectural analysis of the space was evident in Chermside Theatres, by m3Architecture project team Michael Lavery, Ben Vielle and Emma Healy. This featured a 3D ‘fly through’ of the proposed architectural re-design of the site formerly hosting the Dawn Theatre. For an art audience, it was a reminder of the level of sophistication and aesthetic achievement professional animation can attain. Similarly, in architect Ashley Paine’s untitled 1-minute video produced for the exhibition, a complex layering of appearing and disappearing graphic patterns sought to reveal, according to his statement, “new patterns that reinforce the shifting and subjective nature of vision in the original work, while introducing temporality and instability to its construction of visual space.”

On the relationship between art and architecture, Rachel says the affinities are evident, as “they converge both conceptually and actually. After all, both deal with space. [V3] is an example of this convergence. As architects and designers we wanted to explore the relationship between the moving image and space. What happens if a video work ‘expands’, so to speak, to form a spatial experience? We tried to arrange our screens so that people could not only watch a moving work but inhabit a space defined by the moving works. From this we played with ideas of dimensionality, temporality, and the spectator as spectacle.”

Of the work by artists, Gen Staine’s Time Space Frames was ideally suited to the event, especially since one of its most striking images features an alarming series of cracks appearing on the performing arts building (located adjacent to the installation). I found myself wishing again that this beautiful, subtle work, which comments on photography, urban architecture and memory, was longer, especially in the multi-screen mode.

Chris Bennie’s No Faculty Among Us, consisting of a single moving image of a shimmering swimming pool, was also striking in its simplicity. The ethereal effect of the rippling aqua water and serene lane striations was suddenly upset by the appearance of the swimmer, and made strange by our realisation that our view was upside-down. The emphasis was on the revelation of the purely pro-filmic; according to Bennie, “the work aims to render the repetitious and the common as remarkable and extraordinary without embellishment or pretence.” Formally strong and confidently executed, No Faculty Among Us was shorthand for the assured, creative and revealing exploration of space that characterised the whole [V3] night.


[V3] Art+Architecture event, organisers Rachel Barnard, Ye Ng, Jane McGarry for Architecture Week, Queensland Performing Arts Centre forecourt, Southbank, Brisbane, Oct 27

RealTime issue #76 Dec-Jan 2006 pg. 26

© Danni Zuvela; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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