Having spent over an hour pounding the streets of Sydney, I arrived a the workshop late (having gotten off at the wrong bus stop and getting hopelessly lost around University of Sydney’s huge city centre campus) and a little frazzled. So it was an unexpected surprise to enter a room with a large dome and a group of deeply engaged, open (and very welcoming, despite my tardiness) people discussing a new work by Mark. The work primarily explores how people engage with sound trough active engagement with gestures, using a WII connect. While there are images that are projected on the white dome, these were seen as secondary to the artist, being used only to capture the attention long enough to realise they are experiencing a sound experience. Thinking about how people behave – indeed need to behave in this work (waving arms about etc) led to an interesting conversation around audience expectation and how far, as an artist using interactive tools, you need to direct and prescribe activity in the space. This reminded me of Victoria’s interactive piece, Witch Pricker, being shown in my recently opened exhibition, Dear Angel, at Globe Gallery where we had very similar conversations about how much we needed to walk people through the experience and how much should be left to the audience to figure out through engagement.
The conversation continued with Judith Doyle talking about her work Gesture Cloud (http://vimeo.com/67425782) which is also exploring the Wii connect as a tool for exploring gesture. We moved into the realm of digital performativity in art and art history with great references made to people like Stelarc (whose talk I missed to come to this workshop) and Vera Frankel
Opening Party was a fun affair kicked off with a performance by Mark Hosler from Negativland. I
spoke to some good folk but key highlights include Victoria checking out the work of Eric Siu and his work Touchy I also had a great chat with Dave Colangelo from Yeates School of Graduate Studies in Toronto, about audience development and delivering projects for a suburban audience. Need to find out more about what he’s up to. And finally Tara Morelo, Director of d/Lux/Media Art who I have hopefully convinced to come to the UK and visit the North East! We talked a lot about how communities engage with digital media artists and the current ‘portforlio’ approaches of arts organizations in Australia to loosing their funding (d/Lux recently lost their regular Arts Council grant)…a conversation being had the world over it seems.
The rest of the evening was spent on waiting for the ferry to bring us back to Balmain and checking out the impressive projects onto the Harbour for one of the final nights of Vivid, an international light festival that has delighted audiences for the past 20 days. The artist talks programme that has run throughout this first weekend were part of this festival.