Experimenta announces program for 5th International Biennial of Media Art

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Tuesday 12 June 2012.

Melbourne, Australia: Experimenta has announced its highly anticipated artistic program for the 5th International Biennial of Media Art. Running at RMIT Gallery in Melbourne from September 14 to November 17 2012, Experimenta Speak to Me is a dynamic showcase of emerging and experimental artworks by leading media artists from Australia and around the world.

In 2012, Experimenta’s major international biennial will present works by critically acclaimed international artists, including Ryoko Aoki & Zon Ito (Japan), Sylvie Blocher (France), Natalie Bookchin (USA), Johan Grimonprez (Belgium), Shih Chieh Huang (Taiwan), Hiroshi Ishiguro (Japan), Meiro Koizumi (Japan), Scenocosme (France), Nobuhiro Shimura (Japan), Kenji Suzuki (Japan), and Takayuki Yamamoto (Japan). The exhibition will also showcase works by leading Australian artists, including Philip Brophy, Grant Stevens, Archie Moore, Kate Murphy, Charlie Sofo, Priscilla Bracks Tristan Jalleh, Dominic Redfern, Eugenia Lim, Soda_Jerk, Nina Ross and Gavin Sade.

For the 5th International Biennial of Media Art, Experimenta will present five newly commissioned artworks by Australian artists: Christopher Fulham, Jess MacNeil, Wade Marynowsky and Katie Turnbull. Working across diverse disciplines including robotics, animation and digital video, each of these artists will present a new work of significant ambition and scale that explores experimental and emerging art forms.

For its fifth commission, Experimenta is delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration with New-­York based Australian artist Ian Burns. A junkyard alchemist, Burns uses found objects and video screens to create large-­‐scale, sculptural installations that draw upon consumer culture. The new work, anywhere and here, has been commissioned in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). It will be shown as part of Ian Burns: In the Telling, which opens at ACMI on 24 July 2012.

Finally, Experimenta is working in partnership with Federation Square to present a large scale work by internationally renowned Seoul based artists Young-­‐Hae Chang Heavy Industries (YHCHI). For this commission, the acclaimed artistic duo will produce a single channel text based animation that will be synchronised to a jazz music score. This work will be presented on the big screen at Federation Square for the duration of Experimenta Speak to Me. In addition to their commission, Young-­‐Hae Chang Heavy Industries will also be exhibiting at RMIT Project Space for a four week exhibition from 24 September to 28 October, 2012.

Experimenta Director, Jen Mizuik, explains that the title of this year’s exhibition, Speak to Me is an invitation to consider what it means to be together. The exhibition will explore how we communicate with one another in this time of ultimate interconnectivity, where communication can take place anywhere and at any time.

“The 5th International Biennial of Media Art will expose Australian audiences to ideas around our capacity for connectedness and the many ways artists and we communicate with each other today. We are thrilled to be working with this calibre of artists from Australia and the world to explore this timely and compelling subject. Experimenta plays a critical role in helping to shape the new media landscape in Australia and beyond. I am delighted that this year we will be pushing the boundaries more than ever before with a dynamic showcase of artistic excellence,” said Ms Mizuik.

“This year’s title invites the viewer to question ideas around communication, intimacy and sharing of ideas in the world today. As technology continues to shape and infiltrate our lives in the 21st century, we have to consider how this influences our relationships, daily actions and the way we engage with our space and each other,” said Experimenta Curator Abigail Moncrieff.

The 5th International Biennial of Media Art launches 14 September to 17 November 2012 in Melbourne. This year it will for the first time present its central exhibition at RMIT Gallery, as well as major venues across the city including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), City Village, Federation Square, National Gallery Victoria (NGV), RMIT Project Space, SIGNAL, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, Westspace, The Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing, Ideas and public sites across Melbourne. Following its Melbourne launch, the new exhibition will tour across Australia over two years. The Biennial program will include public works and performances, big-­‐screen programs and projections as well as a variety of public and education programs.

The move to RMIT Gallery signifies a bold, new chapter in the Experimenta’s evolution. RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies notes that Experimenta exhibitions and commissioned artworks confirm Australia’s place at the forefront of technical and artistic innovation. “We are delighted to have this association with Experimenta. The role of RMIT Gallery as the launch venue for Experimenta Speak to Me is a perfect fit as RMIT University is a leader in technology, design, global business and communication,” said Ms Davies.

Artist Commissions:

For her Experimenta work, London-­‐based artist Jess MacNeil transports viewers to Paris in winter. Outside the iconic Hotel de Ville, a game of Sparrowhawk is played on ice. In this work, the bodies of skaters will be digitally erased, their presence revealed by their shadows and effect on the ice. Ice skaters become visible in brief flashes when they make physical contact with one another, punctuating the work and heightening the sense of disorientation and aesthetic tension. Synched across three screens, the work is immersive and poetic.

Wade Marynowsky continues his interest in performative robotics. The Acconci Robot is a playful but mute robot in the form of an everyday household object: a robotic wardrobe that follows unsuspecting audience members throughout the exhibition space. The work references the performance work by Vito Acconci entitled Follow Piece (1969), in which Acconci randomly selected a passer-­‐by and followed that person, until he or she disappeared into a private place where Acconci could not follow. This artwork is a cheeky inversion of interaction, following viewers whilst their backs are turned, but stopping in its tracks as they turn to see who is following.

Canberra-­‐based artist Christopher Fulham uses his time-­‐based video works to explore perception, awareness and attention. Fulham is fascinated by the symbiotic relationship between an artistic intent, captured moments and the post-­‐production process. Milieu is a 58 minute, single screen work, which was filmed in a single session. The artist captures a public, urban setting in the melancholy mid-­‐afternoon. The work provokes curiosity as viewers are drawn into the inner lives of those depicted on screen.

Katie Turnbull presents Modern Vanitas: an engaging animation work that mixes analogue and digital practices and is a contemporary version of a pre-­‐cinema toy, resembling the zoetrope. In this contemporary version, the images are the artist’s interpretation of modern day Vanitas, still life images in the tradition of memento mori. Symbols of life, death, time, globalisation, digital technology, communications and transient ephemera are all represented. Drawing upon the morbid and religious overtones of the baroque Vanitas genre art, Turnbull’s images are a reminder of the transience of life.

Ian Burns at ACMI presents an inventive work assembled from everyday domestic objects sourced from retail stores such as K-­‐ Mart and Bunnings. Each sculptural assemblage uses live video and sculpture to interrogate the screen image, its construction and representation of truth. The newly commissioned work, anywhere and here, draws on consumer culture in terms of image and product consumption. It serves to undermine the power of the virtual image on the technological screen. The absurd, convoluted ways that Burns creates his live videos destabilises the strength of moving image clichés.

Young-­‐Hae Chang Heavy Industries has structured its collaborative practice around the concept of a faceless corporation named yhchang.com. In this corporation, Young-­‐Hae Chang is CEO and Marc Voge is CIO. The work of YHCHI is typified by their humour, sharp socio-­‐political consciousness and an acute sense of timing. Referring to literary genres such as concrete poetry, their work delivers fast moving, complex and unresolved narratives that demand the viewers’ attention. The artists occupy a unique place in the art world, having been amongst the first to employ the Internet as an artistic platform in the mid-­‐1990s.

International Artistic Program Highlights: Paris-­‐based Sylvie Blocher presents a vertical, single-­‐channel video projection of 10 minutes of freedom 2. The artist has filmed 100 teenagers from one of the poorest cities in France, Pléïade in Sevran Beaudottes. Armed with nothing more than her camera and questions, she asks young students to speak the unspeakable. The participants respond with surprising candour. As their private thoughts are aired, the process operates as a kind of catharsis on the complexities of modern urban life.

French art collective Scenocosme presents Light Contacts. A large scale, interactive and sensory artwork, it challenges ideas on personal space and the proximity of strangers. Viewers position themselves under a light filled dome. By touching a metallic ball and each other, their bodies are transformed into a human instrument that transmits light and sound. The artwork therefore creates a poetic consideration of intimacy and physical closeness.

Taiwanese born and internationally renowned artist, Shih Chieh Huang, is creating an organic ‘living’ robot from common, everyday objects. Slide to Unlock 2012 is an installation that merges everyday, store-­‐bought artificial materials such as zips, computer parts, lights and toys and dissected electronics to create interactive organic living environments and sculptures. The result is a large scale, mechanical installation that enlivens the senses. Visitors can walk through to hear the whirring and beeping of the many robots at work in his 21st Century ecosystem.

The work The state one reaches by the age of 9, and the sunshine of those days is a collaborative eight channel video installation by artists Ryoko Aoki and Zon Ito. Drawing on ancient animation techniques such as anime or Manga, hand drawn animations appear as digitally rendered as chains or links, works that endlessly transform into another. The work will be presented as an immersive installation, making use of whimsical and domestic projection surfaces such as mirrors, walls, freestanding wood planks and paper.

Hiroshi Ishiguro’s inclusion will see this visionary roboticist present his first keynote lecture in Australia, in partnership with the Wheeler Centre. A professor at Osaka University, Ishiguro is an expert in artificial intelligence and interaction between humans and robots. Telenoid crosses boundaries in science, robotics, design and telecommunication, heralding the future of communication between people.

A short experimental film by celebrated artist and filmmaker Johan Grimonprez, I May Have Forever Lost My Umbrella is a poetic and meditative work. All of the footage for this work was shot on an iPhone, recapturing selected images from the growing archive of YouTube, as well as images of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan were that were dominating the internet at the time of making of the work. By using YouTube footage, Grimonprez parallels the idea of the heteronym with the world of the internet, where endless invented and interweaving histories and narratives abound.

After launching in Melbourne, the Biennial and artistic commissions will tour nationally to regional and city venues across Australia throughout 2013 and 2014.

ABOUT EXPERIMENTA: Since 1986, Experimenta has been dedicated to making contemporary media art accessible to the public. With three major objectives: commissioning, exhibiting and touring the best of contemporary media art, Experimenta creates engaging media art experiences for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. These three objectives unite in the realisation of a major International Biennial of Media Art, launched in Melbourne Australia before embarking on a subsequent two-­‐year national and international tour. These unique exhibitions present compelling artworks that immediately capture and excite the curiosity and imagination of audiences. To complement the central exhibition and touring offer and established commissioning program, Experimenta presents a range of education and public programs and resources for both metropolitan and regional audiences, making media art accessible on multiple levels and extending audience experience and engagement beyond the exhibition space. Continuing to shape the media arts landscape in Australia, Experimenta also offers artist workshops and ongoing professional development.