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Curtin University of Technology
John Curtin Gallery

Exhibitions & Events Archive - 2004

Perceptual Difference
Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth
10 September - 12 December 2004

Metraform Ecstasis

Metraform Ecstasis 2003, interactive virtual reality environment
courtesy of the Artists

Perceptual Difference, curated by Chris Malcolm, brings together artists from around the world who explore the different ways in which we perceive this world. At a time when we have unprecedented access to the tools for extending our own senses into new realities, we have developed ways of seeing the seemingly invisible in our world.

Utilising a wide range of technologies from Zoetropic devices; to large experiential 3D virtual reality environments, the artists and their scientific collaborators in perceptual difference help us unravel the real from the virtual in a thought provoking celebration of our existence. By investigating the moments forever indivisible between the real and the virtual, these artists give clear insights into fundamental aspects of our own consciousness – our own awareness of ourselves, our own sense of being.

Participating Artists:

Motion and Rest # 4 2003

Motion and Rest # 4 is part of a series of six LED (light emitting diode) displays. Video footage is transposed to a gridded array of small LEDs. These LEDs are integrated into a series of customised electronic circuit boards to provide the physical form of the work, a kind of moving-image sculpture that hangs on the wall like a painting.

The Motion and Rest series features small red lights on a black background. Up close the work appears abstract but at a distance the image of a figure emerges, that of a disabled person walking with an awkward gait.

Campbell describes his use of digital abstraction stating, “Very low resolution images exist at the borderline of abstraction. By reducing or eliminating the digital structure of an image, viewers are forced to search elsewhere in the image for meaning, causing colour, motion and form to take on a new, more interdependent relationship with the interpretation of the image. In these works, as in other forms of visual abstraction, associative thinking processes play a larger role than linear or narrative thinking in the interpretation of an image."

With an interest in the viewer as active participant rather than passive observer, Campbell’s interactives differ from other types of interactive artworks that may have limited pathways and prescribed outcomes.
“I began to create interactive video installations that involve the viewer and the viewer’s response to a given situation. In creating interactive video art work, my goal has been to move away from the conventional computer screen ‘button pushing’ interface and instead move towards creating works that have a more intuitive level of interaction. Making a distinction between a work that is controllable and a work that is responsive, I have tried to create installations that are less about a viewer dominating a work, and more about viewers participating in the developing personality of a work."

Campbell plays with the way in which we see and interpret images, like the human ability to take limited visual information, as with his LED displays, and literally ‘join the dots’ in order to make sense of an abstracted image. He is concerned with systems of perception; this work in particular explores the lowest resolution required for our vision to discern form in a moving image.

Campbell combines cutting edge technology with humanist themes to create works that resonate with a poignancy often absent from technology-based works. His themes draw from his own personal experiences, as is the case with the Motion and Rest series. Campbell’s own parents were disabled, his father with polio and his mother with arthritis from birth. This humanist edge allows the work to be much more than the sum of its electronic parts; it is a deeply moving work, mesmerising and hauntingly beautiful.

On loan from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
San Francisco based artist Jim Campbell has been working in the field of Electronic Arts for over 20 years, Campbell has no formal art training, with dual degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Campbell holds more than a dozen patents in image processing and high definition television and continues to work part time in Silicon Valley for Genesis Microchip (formerly Sage Electronics), an image processing company, designing integrated circuits.

Campbell is at the cutting edge in the use of computer technologies as an art form, being one of a few new-media artists to design his own circuit boards. His work has evolved since the mid 1980s from filmmaking to interactive video installation with his most recent work utilising LED (light emitting diode) displays to create moving-image installations.

Rather than making works about technology, Campbell regards technology as a tool. He has said, "The biggest challenge ... working with technology and art is to transcend the medium ... and to have some sort of humanist side to the work." Using custom made electronics, Campbell explores the often vulnerable aspects of human experience, incorporating themes of time, memory and perception.

Campbell has exhibited in Japan, UK, South Korea, Brazil, China, Australia and the USA, in venues such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Ars Electronica and the 2002 Whitney Biennial. He has received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship award (2003 – 2004), a Langlois Foundation grant (2002 – 2003) and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship award in multimedia (2000).

Christopher CURTIN [USA]

Blurred Memories 2003

Christopher Curtin, Blurred Memories, 2004, non-linear video compositing
courtesy of the Artist

Blurred Memories 2003

Christopher Curtin is interested in the way in which imaging technology has changed the world and how we see it, describing the “myopic fields” of our own technologies. He has developed his own video rendering techniques through which he challenges the way in which “visual technologies extend our vision but distort our viewpoint.”¹

Blurred Memories features video footage filmed in different geographical locations such as Portugal, Arizona, Vancouver and Ireland. Curtin has developed a non-linear video compositing technique in which frames are layered on top of each other, creating a blurred or stretched effect. The result appears more like our memories of a location, rather than the place itself.

The footage is viewed while seated, at right angles to the monitor, much like a passenger in a bus or train would view scenery moving by. A fan directed at the viewer rotates at the same speed as the video itself, completing the sensation of the traveller contemplating the fleeting world outside.
¹ Artist statement for Camera Clara

Christopher Curtin is a young American artist working in the area of digital video and large-scale multimedia installation. Utilising digital manipulation techniques he has developed distinctive methods of visualising the process of image capture, much like the way we store and remember things ourselves.

Curtin was awarded an MFA in 2000 from the University of Texas, Austin and has exhibited extensively in the USA and Canada. He has received University Research Council (URC) grants from Appalachian State University in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for Blurred Memories, enabling him to travel with the work to continental Europe, North America and Ireland. He is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.


Because We Are Small 2003

Tim Lewis Because We Are Small (detail) 2002, plastic and painted metal with electrical fixtures, 18.8 x 30.8 x17.8cm, courtesy of the Artist

Because We Are Small 2003

Because We Are Small is a mixed-media construction that investigates our visual perceptions of the world. Lewis uses principles of the zoetrope, an optical toy, in which, “figures made to revolve on the inside of a cylinder, and viewed through slits in its circumference, appear like a single figure passing through a series of natural motions as if animated or mechanically moved.” ¹

The work consists of a circle of tiny figures contained inside a custom made box. On approaching the work, a sensor triggers the piece into action. An array of bright LEDs (light emitting diodes) cast a strobing light upon a circle of tiny figures which appear to begin rapidly marching in a circle. The figures in fact do not move at all, other than on a spinning turntable that is synchronised with the lights to create the illusion of movement.

Lewis’ humorous works, inspired by kinetic art, photography and genetics, explore, “the relationship between mankind and our sometimes disquieting manufactured world.” ²

On loan from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth


Tim Lewis is a multimedia artist based in England. Developing an interest in Japanese robotics as a teenager, Lewis studied fine art at the Royal College of Art (1984 – 1987) in order to purse his passion, “At 17 I bought a book with a beautifully flashy robot on the cover. I still have it at home with my absurd notes in it. I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do. I hadn’t thought of being an artist but I went to Art College because that was the place where they would let me do this.”¹;

Inspired by kinetic art practices, Lewis makes work that interacts with the viewer, playing with optical illusion and the manipulation of perception. His automated sculptures utilize custom built parts as well as every day objects and all involve elements of movement.

Lewis has recently had a solo exhibition on show at the Liverpool Museum, England (May – August, 2004) titled Uncanny Valley. The phrase was coined by Japanese roboticist, Dr Masahiro Mori to describe the disquieting psychological response to an almost human robotic entity. Lewis has exhibited in the UK, Germany, USA, Switzerland, France, Holland, Spain and the Czech Republic.


\Zo"e*trope\, n. [Gr. ? life + ? turning, from ? to turn.] An optical toy, in which figures made to revolve on the inside of a cylinder, and viewed through slits in its circumference, appear like a single figure passing through a series of natural motions as if animated or mechanically moved.

METRAFORM [Australia]
Ecstasis 2004

Ecstasis is the latest virtual reality project produced by Metraform in collaboration with RMIT’s Virtual Reality Centre. A multi-user ‘experiential’ installation, Ecstasis involves up to four participants that simultaneously explore the virtual environment by use of a multi-user head tracking system. The work is determined not only by one’s own decisions for movement within the environment but also by the sum of the activities of all participants.

Jonathan Duckworth described the interactive process at the Image, Text and Sound Conference 2002; “Initially each user is allocated a specific iconographical representation. This icon informs the user as to the location they occupy within the digital environment and where they are in relation to the other users. To move the icon users must move their head. Initially the individual user maintains limited degree of control over navigation through the digital experience. However by co-operation or disruption with other users the sense of limited control decreases as the users realise that their location to the other users directly informs the navigation through and modulation of the digital environment.” ¹

The stability or instability of the environment depends on the users’ joint interaction and negotiation of space within the virtual environment, “instability creates a constant chaotic fluctuation of the environment whilst stability creates a state of rhythmic ‘equilibrium’. If rhythmic equilibrium is achieved, the negotiated state establishes a potential for an ecstatic experience, defined as one’s standing apart from one’s own individuality.” ²

The work consists of a large wrap-around screen with blended output from three separate projectors producing a seamless stereoscopic 3D image, 7 metres wide. Combined with 8-channel sound the work powerfully envelops the participants who are moving between their perceptions of the virtual environment and the actual environment. Interactive audio technology completes the immersive experience; the group combines synthetic and organic tracks that change depending on the user’s location.

The visual landscape, seen through stereoscopic glasses also features an amalgam of the organic and synthetic with skin and membrane metaphors used to create architectural spaces monumental in feel and utterly original.

Metraform describes the objective of Ecstasis, “to examine the human position and the relationship between collective action and individual experiences. . . The project seeks to create a communal mode of negotiated interaction and embodiment between individuals within the digital experience.”³

Ecstasis has received an Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) Award for ‘Best Experimental Production’ and versions of the production have been shown at: Graphite 2003 (international conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques); the Cinema of Tomorrow program in Paris; and the Digital Arts and Culture Conference where it received critical acclaim in the media. The perceptual difference exhibition will be the first time the full 3D format has been shown outside of RMIT’s Virtual Reality Centre.
¹ ² [as footnote 1]

metraform logo

METRAFORM [Australia]

Lawrence HARVEY

Metraform is a multi-disciplinary team, formed in collaboration with RMIT’s Interactive Information Institute (I-cube) in 2000. The partnership supported the development of Symbiosis through the institute’s Virtual Reality Centre and has since been developing their next project, Ecstasis.

The team uses semi immersive real-time graphics technology to create a virtual environment that delivers experimental arts based content. The experience of this virtual environment is determined by the viewer’s own participation.

The three members of the Metraform team bring to the collaboration diverse training and experience. Scottish born Jonathan Duckworth has trained extensively in Architecture and has worked on a range of international projects in computer generated analysis, project development and design with acclaimed Melbourne Architect, Tom Kovac. In 1999, Duckworth was awarded an international scholarship to undertake a Masters of Design at the Interactive Information Institute, RMIT, that led to the proposal of Metraform. Duckworth has been working at RMIT’s Virtual Reality Centre as an applications modeller since 2000 and has consulted in architectural visualisation and design since 1999.

Mark Guglielmetti has studied and been employed in the development of interactive CD ROM’s and 3D simulation for over a decade. Having completed postgraduate studies at RMIT, Guglielmetti was employed by the university as a lecturer and project manager of one of Australia’s first online university courses – the Online Media Program. Guglielmetti completed a Master of Arts at the Animation and Interactive Media Centre, RMIT, and is currently employed as an art director and senior applications modeller at the Virtual Reality Centre.

Lawrence Harvey is a composer and curator of contemporary music with degrees in composition from the Canberra School of Music (BA) and Melbourne University (MA). He is completing his PhD at the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT, researching spatial sound design. Harvey’s most recent work Canopies, chimerical acoustic environments, was composed for the Southgate promenade soundscape system, Melbourne, in 2002.

A registered business in Victoria, Australia, Metraform has opened new possibilities in the artistic and commercial use of Virtual Reality Technologies.

Institute RMIT University Film Victoria Victoria, The Place To Be NEC, Empowered by Innovation Jumbo, Vision International Australian Council for the Arts

Australia Council New Media Advisory Board

Cultural Projects Committee, Curtin University of Technology

Jocelyn ROBERT [Canada]
& Emile MORIN
Espèces et quasi-espèces 2004

Robert & Morin Especes Scan

Jocelyn Robert and Emile Morin Espèces et quasi-espèces 2004, installation
digital video projection, toy planes, cow skin, electronics, courtesy of the Artists

Espèces et quasi-espèces is a new work created specifically for John Curtin Gallery’s perceptual difference exhibition as part of BEAP 04. This installation of objects, centred around a digital video projection and sound field, deals with formal correspondences between different systems. In this work Robert and Morin explore the idea that we generally use a limited range of aesthetic and symbolic elements. By connecting different versions of the same elements together in this work they reveal the limited use of our perceptions.

Jocelyn ROBERT [Canada]
& Emile MORIN

Jocelyn Robert and Emile Morin are multidisciplinary artists based in Canada. Robert trained in Architecture, however he is recognised for his research into sound art. For over fifteen years he has been creating art installations and performances in Canada, the USA, South America and Europe, as well as composing interactive computer pieces, producing video and writing. He has published nine solo albums and participated in twenty others.

In 1993 Robert founded Avatar, an artist-run initiative in Quebec City, which he directed until 2001. He has a Masters of Fine Art from Stanford University (California, USA) where he has taught Sound Art, Interactive Art and Social Sculpture/Contextual Art. He currently teaches Intermedia Art at Mills College in Oakland, California. In February 2002 he was awarded first prize in the “New Image” category at the international media arts festival, Transmediale, in Berlin.

Robert has been particularly interested in collaborative projects, working with individual artists and collectives such as Bruit TTV and Le Grand Orchestra d’Avatar. He has collaborated with Morin on many projects, including La Salle des Noeuds, an installation featured at the Sommet de la Francophonie, Moncton and at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Alberta.

Emile Morin is the coordinator of Le Nom de Chose, the new media and electronics lab at Avatar. He has been an Artistic Director of Recto-Verso since 1982 and has coordinated events such as La Parallaxe and Le Corps Amplifie.

Morin has worked with many different artists, across a range of artforms. His multidisciplinary performance piece, Un Paysage/Eine Landschaft/ A Landscape, featuring video and sound, was shown at the High Performance Rodeo festival, Calgary in 2000.

Quebec Canada Council for the Arts
Bjoern SCHUELKE [Germany]
Planet Space Rover 2004
Orgamat 2003

Planet Space Rover

Bjoern Schuelke Orgamat 2003, electronic sculpture: plywood, steel, fan, television, 170 x 90 x 120cm, courtesy of the Artist

Bjoern Schuelke’s kinetic sculptures question the way in which we interact with modern technology and the potential for this technology to begin to dominate us. His electronic sound and video machines provide us with a sensory experience, yet one in which we are not always in control, rather his machines react to or observe us.

Orgamat transforms the visual information of live telecasting from an in-built television into the sounds of five organ pipes. Five light sensors continually detect the change in light intensity on the screen, enabling the machine to function as a big sound generator.

Planet Space Rover is an autonomous observation system, featuring a solar energy system, propeller powered rotating body, kinetic camera arms, monitor, long wave scanner and sound detector. Ingeniously designed and exquisitely crafted, Planet Space Rover appears whimsical one moment but once activated, mutates into a menacing surveillance apparatus.

Bjoern SHUELKE [Germany]

Bjoern Schuelke is a multimedia artist based in Cologne. His ingeniously designed machines combine elements of surveillance technologies, robotics interactive video and sound. Schuelke’s kinetic sculptures question the way in which we interact with modern technology: on entering the installation site, the audience becomes part of the ‘system’ as the works (some freestanding, others suspended) monitor or react to the human element.

Schuelke was awarded best work in communication and new media at the 2000 Biennale Arte Emergente, Torino, Italy for Modulator#1. In 2002, he was awarded the German Video-Installation-Award for Drone#2. Like The Observer (2001) and Observette (2003), Drone#2 is a spider-like surveillance apparatus that mutates from the whimsical to the menacing, triggering emotions of paranoia and apprehension as it watches us watching it.

Schuelke trained in photography and film design in Blielefeld, Germany (1988 – 1993) before completing Postgraduate studies at the Academy of Media Art (KMH) in Cologne (1996 – 1999). From 1997 to 2000 he was a research artist at the German National Research Centre for Information Technology (GMD), Sankt Augustin. He has exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the UK, including Germany, England, France, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Ireland and Russia. Most recently he has exhibited at the Rauma Biennale Balticum, Finland (2004), the European Media Art Festival, Germany (2003) and jeune creation, exposition internationale d’art contemporain, France (2003).

At home with Jacques Lacan 2004

Sermon Simulation 05

Paul Sermon, There's no simulation like home 1999, interactive telematic installation, 6 x 9m, photo: Paul Sermon, courtesy of the Artist

Paul Sermon’s telematic artworks are inspired by Jacques Lacan’s early psychoanalytical writings that suggest the human psyche is constructed as a mirror image that we contemplate as if it is on stage in front of us.

At home with Jacques Lacan functions by linking two identical installations through the use of live chroma-keying and video-conferencing technology. Two public rooms or installations (complete with sofa, table, monitors and video cameras) are joined in a virtual duplicate where the user/performers observe their mirrored counterparts, becoming “voyeur of their own spectacle.” ¹

Sermon describes the audience as integral to the telematic experiment, without whom the installation simply would not function. “Initially the viewers seem to enter a passive space, but they are instantly thrown into the performer role by discovering their own body-double in communication with another physically remote user on video monitors in front of them.” ²

¹ Paul Sermon interview at Ars Electronica Center, Linz, 1997
² From artist statement


Paul Sermon is a leading figure and pioneer of telematic artworks, having worked in the field for nearly 20 years. Sermon completed a BA Hon’s Fine Art degree (1985 – 1988) at the University of Wales under acclaimed British artist and theorist Roy Ascott. Ascott coined the term telematic art, to describe “the use of online computer networks as an artistic medium.” ¹

Sermon’s telematic video installations function by linking two remote sites via live chroma keying and video-conferencing technology. He has created telematic installations, for exhibition in locations across Europe and the UK, including Ars Electronica and Helsinki ISEA. He received the “Sparkey Award”, Interactive Media Festival, Los Angeles, 1994 and the Prix Ars Electronica “Golden Nica” for interactive art, 1991. Recent commissioned works include, Sofa Vision, Millenium Dome, UK, 2000; Peace Talks, FACT, Liverpool, 2003; and The Teleporter Zone, Evelina Children’s Hospital, London.

Paul Sermon holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Reading (1989 – 1991) and has lectured in Telematic Arts and Interactive Media in the UK, Germany and Austria. He is Professor at the school of Art and Design at the University of Salford, Manchester, England where he continues his research in the field of immersive and expanded telematic environments.


Galvin, a name with plumbers

Arts Council of England
Artist in Residence Committee, Curtin University of Technology

Mari VELONAKI [Australia]
Embracement 2003

Mari Velonaki: Embracement

Mari Velonaki in collaboration with Steve Scheding and David Rye Embracement 2003
light re-active installation (Screen: 65 D x 1635 W x 1260mm H), image courtesy of the artists

Embracement is a collaborative work with roboticists Steve Scheding and David Rye from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney. The light reactive installation uses a unique Crystal photo-luminescent projection screen that has the capability of a transient memory, discharging an accumulated image during moments that the computer controlled video sequence is momentarily shuttered at the projector.

The image of two women standing facing each other (performers Leah Grycewicz and Melpo Papadopoulos) is seen on the crystal screen with the younger of the two women repeatedly moving forward to embrace the other. Critic Kirsten Krauth asks, “Is it a bear hug given to a mother or a stranglehold meted out to a lover? The line between affection and violence is crisscrossed, the lunge betraying anger/fear/longing, tender tension, a showdown and challenge that all relationships must negotiate.” ¹

Embracement was premiered in Primavera 2003 at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.


Mari VELONAKI [Australia]

Mari Velonaki is a Sydney based multimedia artist, crossing the boundaries between art and science. Completing a PhD at COFA (UNSW) in 2003, Velonaki has worked collaboratively with scientific groups in order to advance her research and artistic practice. Most recently Velonaki has collaborated with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney to produce Embracement (2003) and her next project, Fish – Bird: Autonomous Interactions in a contemporary Art Setting.

For the past eight years, Velonaki’s complex installations have featured digital characters that evolve and activate via spectator interaction. These interplays feature sensory triggered interfaces (light reactive, breath activated, electrostatic charge measurements, artificial vision systems and speech recognition). Her installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: Converge: Where Art and Science Meet 2002, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art; Heterosis – Digital Art from Australia Arco, Madrid; European Media Arts Festival Osnabruck, Germany; Start-Up, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand; Primavera 2003 and 2004, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Velonaki is currently the recipient of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant (2003 – 2006) as part of the Synapse program, designed to encourage collaborative ventures between artists, scientists and technologists. The grant is in collaboration with Dr David Rye, Dr Steven Scheding and Dr Stefan Williams who, with Velonaki, form the core art/science collaboration at the ACFR. Their research areas include robotics, distributed and decentralised systems and human/machine interaction. The Australian Centre for Field Robotics is a partner in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Autonomous Systems.

Australia Council for the Arts

This work is supported in part by the ARC Centres of Excellence programme, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the New South Wales State Government. The support of the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at The University of Sydney is also gratefully acknowledged.

Simon BIGGS [UK]
Stream 2003

Simon Biggs: Stream 2003

Simon Biggs Stream 2003, interactive immersive environment
courtesy of the artist

Stream deals with issues concerning presence, both physical and virtual, and asks "what if" we all lost the ability to differentiate ourselves and our sense of singularity in the world?

Stream is an interactive immersive installation involving the development of multi-user interactive systems. The work focuses on the viewer’s relationship with both the work itself and with other visitors in the exhibition space. Viewers are confronted with a 3D visualisation of an abstract space composed of texts and ghost-like apparitions that stream constantly down large-scale projections. As the viewer moves around the space the system tracks their position and generates a data set that allows the 3D scene to dynamically re-map itself.

Individuals are able to see what all the other viewers are seeing, and from each other’s point of view. The multiple 3D views of the data-space are montaged together into a single shared image, where the actions of any one viewer effects what all viewers see.

Stream also functions simultaneously as a web-based work. That is, when on exhibition, wherever it is in the world, the installation version is constantly logged onto the Internet. Those viewers who are physically interacting in the real space are also able to see the "presence" of those viewers who are remotely logged on via the web. Inversely, those logged on remotely can see the physical movement of those in the installation space re-mapped as the parallax view of a particular "stream".

Simon BIGGS [UK]

Born in Australia, Simon Biggs moved to the UK in 1986. An inter-disciplinary artist, he places the computer and interactive systems at the centre of a practice addressing issues around identity and reality as social constructs.

Biggs has worked solely with computer-based interactive installations since 1983 having earlier developed a graphics dedicated computer system with his father, a computer scientist. He describes his multi-disciplinary artworks as, “occupying a space somewhere between installation, interactive theatre, video art and traditional animation, but not belonging to any single.” ¹

Biggs’ has exhibited throughout the UK, Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and the pacific in major venues including, Whitechapel Gallery; Tate Gallery; Centres de Georges Pompidou, Paris; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.

He is currently Professor of Research at Sheffield Hallam University and Research Fellow at Cambridge University, UK.

Stream is presented as a work for the Distributed Difference and perceptual difference exhibitions at the John Curtin Gallery.


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Mis-en-scene: Su Baker
25 June–8 August 2004

Mis-en-scene Four
Su Baker, Four, 2004, acrylic on linen, courtesy of the Artist

Whatever the metamorphosis of painting, whatever the support frame, we are always faced with the same question: what is happening, there? Whether we deal with canvas, paper or wall, we deal with a stage where something is happening (and if, in some forms of art, the artist deliberately intends that nothing should happen, even this is an event, an adventure).
Roland Barthes.

Foam Cross 2
Su Baker, Foam cross, 2004, acrylic on linen, courtesy of the Artist

Consisting of large paintings Mis-en-scene outlines the critical problem explored in Baker’s research, which can be described by the following anecdote:

Woody Allen tells the story of the man who went to a psychiatrist and said, “doc, I have a problem, my brother thinks he’s a chicken!” the psychiatrist says, “that’s terrible, why don’t you turn him in?” the man replies, “well, I would, Doc, but I need the eggs!”

And in this case, according to Su Baker, the question that might be asked is why paint? Or indeed, why make art at all? Is it that we still need the eggs? Perhaps we are still party to some collective madness that possesses us and to which we feel some filial loyalty.

Su Baker has produced a significant body of new work in Mis-en-scene to explore a new aesthetic of painting in a post-cinematic, post-art, post-critical age. As Baker says herself this is an impossible but ecstatic ambition. This new work can be seen as ciphers of subjectivities, residual deposits of, in this case, pictorial stylistic playthings. This is not a return to an anti-intellectual essentialism or reductive formalism, or to the abandonment of narratives, nor does it propose a single orthodoxy – but, on the contrary, it proposes to embrace a free-form complexity, multiple genres and eclectic reference points, it aims to invest in the silent, visual and libidinal economy of painting with a sense of intellectual gravitas, to empower the scopophilic enjoyment of making and looking with an underlying seriousness – indeed, a serious pleasure. The ‘serious pleasure’ of making and looking and what could be more serious than that.

Originally from Western Australia, Baker’s work emerged from an increasingly and deliberately self-conscious approach to painting that came after the peak of the ‘post object’ preoccupations of the 1970s. Her first solo exhibition was in 1983 at Galerie Düsseldorf in Perth and she has since exhibited regularly in Perth and Sydney, participated in the 5th Construction Process event in Poland and was winner of the 2000 VACB Studio residency, Milan Studio, Italy. In September 2001, Su Baker exhibited with her father (Allan Baker) at Galerie Düsseldorf
Baker has been the recipient of several grants including, most recently the New Work, VACB 2004. She is represented in the collections of various state galleries, university art collections, Artbank and private collections.

Su Baker is currently undertaking research for a Doctorate of Creative Arts, at Curtin University, due for completion in 2004. Baker completed Bachelor of Fine Art at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT, now Curtin University) during the late 1970s and completed her Graduate Diploma in Education in 1980. She then undertook postgraduate study at Sydney College of the Arts in 1983 and worked there as the Senior Lecturer in Painting until 2000. Baker is currently Head of School of Art, at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.

Red Tower Burns
Su Baker, Red Tower Burns, 2004, acrylic on linen, courtesy of the Artist

Writing the Collection

Writing the Collection
25 June - 8 August 2004

The Curtin University of Technology Art Collection was established in 1968 with the intention of enhancing both the appearance and educational life of what was then the Western Australian Institute of Technology. Over the past 35 years the collection has steadily grown. The development of the collection has been made possible through the support of the University community and many of the works held in it hold particular significance for people who have lived along-side them during their time at Curtin.

Writing the Collection is a celebration of the significance of the Curtin University of Technology Art Collection within the history and development of the University. The exhibition is a collaboration involving the Curtin community, the John Curtin Gallery and, most importantly, the collection itself. The result of this collaboration will be an exhibition drawn from the collection with accompanying texts, which reflect and elaborate upon the works. An accompanying publication will feature images and personal responses to the works from members of the University community.

Artist Work Writer Curtin Association
Hans Arkeveld HB15 political cadavers and refugees, 1981 Dr Nonja Peters Director Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees, & Citizenship (MERC) Research Unit.
Kate Beynon Womanly virtues, 2001 Cameron Kippen Podology Lecturer, Dept of Podiatry, School of Physiotherapy, Div. Health Science
Kate Beynon Li Ji: Warrior Girl, 2000 Prof Krishna Sen Prof Asian Media, Dept of Media & Information
Brian Blanchflower

Study (comet), 1984 Prof Mike Wood Executive Dean, Curtin Business School
Elise Blumann Young girl, 1970 Sir James Cruthers Hon Doc of Technology, CUT; John Curtin Centre Fellow; Donor to CUT Art collection
Paul Brown My gasket, 1999 Prof Suzette Worden Prof Design, Dept of design, BEAD, Humanities
Joan Campbell
Egg form, 1982 Prof David Dolan Prof of Cultural Heritage, Dir. Research Institute for Cultural Heritage; Humanities
Butcher Cherel
Janangoo Jindiwilli, 1997 Julie Dowling Artist
Brenda Croft
Alt(a)red angels, 1998 Dr Donald Pulford Lecturer, Course Coordinator Performance Studies, C & CS; Humanities
Andrew Daly Self portrait, 1989 Lady Sheila Cruthers John Curtin Centre Fellow; Donor CUT Art Collection.
Juan Davila Grafting, 1989 Prof David Buchbinder Communication & Cultural Studies, Faculty of Media, Society & Culture: Humanities.

Julie Dowling
St John Pat,1996

Pat Dudgeon &
Michelle Webb

Head, Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Humanities;
Associate Lecturer, Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Humanities
Stuart Elliot
Wheat Madonna, c. 1990 Assoc Prof Graham Seal Dep Dir. Australian Studies; Dir. Folklore Research Unit; Australia Research Institute.
Elizabeth Gertsakis A Glamorous Private History, Beautiful Sons and Beautiful Daughters, 1989 Elizabeth Gertsakis Artist
Tom Gibbons
Homage to Duccio: last supper, 1968 Asso Prof Paola Ferrroni Dir. Centre for International Health; Div Health Sciences.
Guy Grey-Smith
Magpies, 1951 Val Raubenheimer Gen Man. Corporate Communications, CUT
Nora Heysen
Portrait of Dorothy Hewett, 1975 Prof. Tom Stannage Executive Dean Division of Humanities
Robert Juniper Landscape, 1974 Dr Eric Tan Chancellor , Curtin University of Technology
Eileen Keys
Bowl, 1987 Dr Ann Schilo Sen Lecturer, Dept of Art; BEAD; Humanities
Sally Marsland
Brooch, 2001 Prof Jane den Hollander Pro Vice-Chancellor, Academic Services, Curtin University of Technology
Brian McKay
M.W.S., 1978 Diana Warnock Art Patron, Board Member John Curtin Gallery Advisory Board, CUT
Mary McLean/Nalda Searles Looking for water, 2001 Prof Lance Twomey Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University of Technology
Mary Moore Prof
Woman and her natural environment, 1989 Lesley Parker Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University of Technology
Max Pam
E.T. with Elizabeth, Paris, 1991 Prof Charles Watson Executive Dean, Health Sciences, Division of Health Sciences
Chris Pease
9 o’clock St Georges Terrace, 2000 Prof Ted Snell Dean of Art, John Curtin Centre, Prof of Contemporary Art, Curtin University of Technology
Gloria Petyarre
Awelye for Atnankere, 1998 Dr Jo Lagerberg John Curtin Centre Fellow, Donor to the Curtin University of Technology Art Collection
Carol Porter, Red Planet Posters To every woman, money, power, freedom, 1994 Gem Cheong University Secretary, Curtin University of Technology
Carol Rudyard
Colonial hide, 1995 Assoc Prof Barbara Milech Faculty of Media, Society & Culture, Dir Graduate Studies, Humanities.
Miriam Stannage
The Spectator, 1997 Miriam Stannage Artist; Honorary Doctor of Technology, Curtin University of Technology.
Angela Stewart
Vulnerability, 1988 Pamela Hass General Counsel and Director, Legal Services, Curtin University of Technology
Howard Taylor Trees and dam, 1981 Douglas Sheerer Dir. Galerie Düsseldorf, Adjunct Research Fellow, DofA; BEAD; Humanities
Rover Thomas

Wild dog dreaming, 1998
Canning stock route, 1995
AProf Will Christensen Dept of Social Sciences, Media, Society & Culture; Humanities
Aida Tomescu
Vis IV, 1991 Ian Bernadt John Curtin Centre Fellow, Donor to CUT Collection
Rick Vermey

New arrivals, 2000
Going places, 2000
Dr Tom Gibbons Artist, Adjunct Professor, Curtin University of Technology
Karl Wiebke
Painting 91 (my fair illusion), 1991 Margaret Moore Board Member John Curtin Gallery Advisory Board
Anne Zahalka Derrida lecture, 1999 Dr Ann McGuire Senior Lecturer, Dir of Academic Programs, C &CS; Humanities

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the space between
14 April – 13 June 2004

Jane Harris Potential Beauty

Jane Harris, Potential Beauty 2002-03, 3D computer graphic animation on DVD, courtesy of the Artist

The conference exhibition, the space between, opening on 14 April 2004 at the John Curtin Gallery will feature a number of national and international artists presenting a broad range of interpretations of the conference themes, utilising a variety of media and modes of presentation – inviting the viewer to (re)consider new definitions for the space between textiles_art_design_fashion.

the space between textiles_art_design_fashion international conference and exhibition has been initiated by the Textile Exchange Project (TEP) in partnership with Curtin University of Technology. the space between is a major initiative that will explore the creative synergy between current practices in textiles, art, design and fashion. The event is intended to provide the opportunity for an in-depth exchange of ideas and experiences between artists, curators, academics and theorists from all over the world.

the space between exhibition will focus on the new artistic and theoretical potentialities that have emerged as a consequence of the blurring of the boundaries between different art forms. In recent times new, hybrid kinds of artistic practice have developed combining elements from fine art, contemporary textiles and fashion design. This process of interdisciplinary synthesis has given rise to modes of artistic expression that elude the restrictions of traditional categorisations based on medium or technique. Today many innovative international artists work in the fluid spaces between the familiar domains of traditional disciplines. the space between will provide an opportunity to confront and debate the many issues that stem from these new areas of practice.

Artists currently included:
Maria Blaisse (Holland), Caroline Broadhead (UK), Jane Harris (UK), Trish Little (Aus), Suzumi Noda (Jap), Takehiko Sanada (Jap), Reiko Sudo (Jap), Tissue Culture & Art (Aus), Christian Bumbarra Thompson (Aus), Lucy Orta (UK/France), Paul Thomas (Aus), International Fashion Machines (USA).

Moira Doropoulos_Anne Farren_Andrew Hutchison_Keiko Kawashima

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Material Witness – 15th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial
14 April–13 June 2004

Material Witness

Louise Weaver, Racoon, 2000, hand crocheted lambs wool, synthetic fibre, cotton thread, antique Japanese silver thread over high-density polyurethane foam, 33 x 80 x 22 cm, courtesy of the Artist

What is it about textiles that makes you want to reach out and touch them? Material Witness explores the materiality, versatility and vitality of today’s contemporary textiles practice. This exhibition will coincide with the space between conference that centres on the new creative and theoretical potentialities that have emerged from the blurring of the boundaries between art, fashion, textiles and design. This event provides an international forum for the presentation of new ideas, current research and an in-depth exchange of ideas and experiences.

Material Witness showcases the innovative practice of Australia’s foremost fibre and textile artists. The curator, Robyn Daw, has selected works from twenty-two artists representing urban and regional areas and all states and territories in Australia. The works presented come from both established and emerging artists, including those from Indigenous and other cultural backgrounds.

The works showcased in this exhibition were developed using familiar materials, techniques and objects in unexpected and unconventional ways. “Each artist’s work stems from individual motivation and exploration, and from a knowledge that the material one chooses to use is imbued with cultural, social and personal significance,” said Daw. The selection of works is a mix of functional pieces; works that make political, social or environmental comment; and works that investigate the aesthetic of textiles. The results are elegant, subversive, luscious, traditional, innovative, engaging and fun.

The title of the exhibition, ‘material witness,’ is a legal term that refers to a witness whose evidence is likely to have an important influence on the outcome of a trial. In this case, each of the artists can be considered important in the future direction of fibre textiles. The artist’s choice of materials and manner of construction is crucial to each of the displayed works – both are essential in the conceptual development of the work and its eventual physical form. Material can thus be seen as a witness to the artist’s own investigations, their place of origin or their ideas.

Material Witness encompasses multiple perspectives of fibre textiles, including the innovative use of traditional materials and techniques, the physical presence of the works as artefact and the power of textiles to awaken a diverse range of human emotions and experiences. In other words, these works explore ideas that engage with the complex and personal meanings of material. Material Witness provides a platform to discuss and debate the meanings of material, what and how it witnesses, and what it means to each of us.

Contributing artists:

Freda Wayidjba Ali
Sieglinde Karl
Rosemary O’Rourke
Rosie Barkus
Greg Leong
Deborah Porch
Irene Briant
Karin Lettau
Nalda Searles
Annabelle Collett
Sara Lindsay
David Sequeira
Beth Hatton
Mary Marabamba
Patrick Snelling
Pat Hoffie
Ruth McDougall
Louise Weaver
Abigail Howells
Vera Möller
Jane Whiteley

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Tracey Moffatt
6 February–28 March 2004

Invoca web

Tracey Moffatt, Invocations #5 2000, photo silkscreen 122 x 146cm, series of 13 images edition of 60, courtesy of the Artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

Held during the UWA Perth International Arts Festival, this major exhibition of work surveys the past 15 years of one of Australia’s most internationally celebrated contemporary artists.

Tracey Moffatt was born in 1960 in Brisbane. In 1982 she graduated in Visual Communications from the Queensland College of Art. She then moved to Sydney in 1983 where she became active as an independent filmmaker and photographer. Her first solo exhibition was in Sydney in 1989 and she has since exhibited in numerous national and international art exhibitions and film festivals. Moffatt’s short film, Night Cries, was selected for official competition in the 1990 Cannes Film Festival and her first feature film, Bedevil, was selected for Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 1993. Her photographs are included in many Australian public and private collections, as well as in the United States, and her work has featured in both solo and group exhibitions all over the world, including Switzerland, New Zealand, UK, Germany, Italy, and USA.

This exhibition takes over the entire John Curtin Gallery and includes both photographic works, such as Something More (1989) and Scarred for Life (1994), and video works, such as Night Cries – A Rural Tragedy (1990) and BeDevil (1993). The photographs and films of Moffatt are bright, deliberately composed and confrontational. Violence, implicit, artificial or apparently real, cuts through all of her work, disturbing the surface and leaving the viewer unsettled. Throughout her work the narrative is ghostlike, present but difficult to fully resolve, haunting and puzzling. Having trained as a filmmaker, Moffatt uses all the devices of and artifice available to a director – casting, script writing, stage, studio, lighting, sound, art direction and editing – to create visions that hover between the public spaces of popular culture and its myths, and the ghosts of personal memory and misremembered dreams.

The intensity of subject matter contained within Moffatt’s early work is drawn from her experience growing up in suburban Brisbane as an Aboriginal child and teenager in an extended white foster family. Her more recent work explores the impact of film and images of popular culture in shaping our lives. She has drawn from popular culture in Australia, Britain and the United States, for instance, television programs, images of sport and life on the street.

List of Works

Photographs and Prints

Some Lads [1986], series of 5 black and white photographs

Something More [1989], series of 9 cibachrome prints

Pet Thang [1991], series of 6 black and white photographs on chromogenic paper

Scarred for Life [1994], series of 9 photo-lithographs

The Beauties [1994-1997], Beauty (in wine) 1994, Beauty (in cream) 1994, Beauty (in mulberry) 1997, series of 3 black and white photographs, colour tinted in lab during printing process

Guapa (Good Looking) [1995], series of 10 black and white photographs on chromogenic paper

Up in the Sky [1997], series of 25 photo-lithographs

Laudanum [1998], series of 19 photo-engravings on rag paper

Backyard Series [1998], series of 3 offset prints on Natura Snow Gum paper using light-fast ink

Scarred for Life II [1999], series of 10 offset lithographic prints

Invocations [2000], series of 13 photo silkscreen printed with ultra violet inks on textured Somerset soft white 300gsm paper

Fourth [2001], series of 26 colour ink prints on canvas

Film and Video

Nice Coloured Girls [1987],16 minute experimental film16 mm screening format DVD. Distributed by Ronin Films

Night Cries - A Rural Tragedy [1989], 17 minutes 35 mm film, Dolby sound screening format DVD. Distributed by Ronin Films

beDevil [1993], 90 minutes 35 mm screening format DVD. Distributed by Ronin Films

Heaven [1997], 28 minutes video screening format DVD. Distributed by Ronin Films

Lip [1999], 10 minute experimental video collaboration with Gary Hillberg
screening format DVD. Distributed by Women Make Movies

Artist [2000], 10 minute experimental video collaboration with Gary Hillberg
screening format DVD. Distributed by Women Make Movies

Love [2003], 21 minute experimental video collaboration with Gary Hillberg
screening format DVD. Distributed by Women Make Movies

A complementary exhibition of Tracey Moffatt’s work shows concurrently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Tracey Moffatt
Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay West, Sydney.
17 December 2003 – 29 February 2004
Free admission – thanks Telstra! For more information visit

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