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Artrage Festival

Art on the skyline

Geet Frank

Geet Frank is Perth-based writer.

Craigie Boys Craigie Boys
photo Ian Corcoran
The sight of giant bugs crawling down the side of the Telstra Exchange building in Perth stopped just short of sparking widespread panic; in the current climate of paranoia, a red target centred on the building triggered at least one irate response from an alarmed citizen.

Ian Corcoran’s digital projections tend to have impact—artworks magnified to the size of an entire building facade can make statements in ways that few artistic endeavours can. Illuminosity, the fourth such project the digital media artist and Australia Council Emerging Producers in Community (EPIC) recipient has attempted in recent years, was no exception.

Three prominent Perth buildings provided the canvasses for Illuminosity: the Telstra Exchange, Western Power on Wellington Street and Central TAFE in Northbridge; while the Midland Town Hall, 30kms from Perth was the site of the Midland Projections Program, an Illuminosity side project undertaken by local artists Poppy Van Oorde Grainger and Marye Wade under Corcoran’s direction.

Corcoran worked with 5 distinct groups over 5 weeks to create 110 unique slides of graphics, photographs and images ranging from quirky to downright odd which were in turn beamed onto building facades with the aid of projectors powerful enough to project over distances of 1km or more. Amongst an assortment of poignant letters by immigrant teens, childlike paintings, graphic prints and comic figures were some clear standouts. A giant image of street artist Trevor Bly from the Craigie Boys graffiti art group, with the number 6025 emblazoned across his forehead, found its way onto the website of the Wooster Collective, the world’s biggest street art website (6025 is the postcode of the northern suburb of Craigie, a prominent breeding ground for Perth street artists). A drawing by Michael Lightfoot, a prominent Perth-based watercolourist with a self-confessed discomfort with new media and digital art was another—an obese suited banker sitting amidst a pile of money embedded with corpses and captioned “and still it’s not enough.”

Illuminosity also marks the first time Ian Corcoran has worked with a corporate body, a radical departure from his usual formula of working with underprivileged or at-risk kids, fringe artists and small community groups. The resulting body of work reflects this difference, a structured underlying narrative vastly dissimilar from the arbitrary nature of the other works. Slides produced by Corcoran with 5 senior staff members of Western Australia’s electricity authority, Western Power, were shown over a single dedicated night of the festival. They included a photograph taken in a substation tunnel powering most of the city, superimposed against a silhouette of the city skyline, and a grid of light, an electronic representation of Perth’s suburban power grid. The Western Power workshops also produced arguably one of the most stunning Illuminosity artworks—the hand of God from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam fresco, reaching out to flick on a light switch.

Aside from thrilling thousands of Perth residents and countless snap-happy Japanese tourists, Ian Corcoran adds another notch to his belt; the sheer scale of the body of work must make Illuminosity one of the biggest events of its kind ever to have occurred in Australia.

Artrage Festival 05: Illuminosity, Ian Corcoran, Nov 1-28

Geet Frank is Perth-based writer.

RealTime issue #70 Dec-Jan 2005 pg. 12

© Geet Frank; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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