A digital video installation by Tim Brook and Arne Hanna in Gallery 2 at M16 Artspace, Griffith ACT
6 pm Thursday 14 June 2018
12 pm–5 pm Wednesday–Sunday until
Glance at an outback landscape, and you’ll say there’s nothing there;
slow down, pay attention, and the subtleties reveal themselves.
Quiet, contemplative and immersive, Australian Landscapes is a digital video installation that invites your imagination. It evokes memories of quiet moments in inland Australia, when you become absorbed in the visual richness of surface details. Very slowly, the work reveals a delicacy of detail and a harshness of ground so characteristic of the Australian inland.
On one level the installation is a formal exercise in line, colour and texture. It is an evolving exploration of delicate detail. The videos were assembled from a large collection of still photographs. The installation offers an immersive experience engaging with the visual connections between these images—almost abstract patterns, like those we find in aerial photographs of the outback. Occasionally the photographs include fragments of worn or clumsy signs (Robert MacPherson’s ‘Australian landscapes’?). The end result is certainly not a narrative, but the work does invite you to make up little stories to account for the strange formations revealed.
Many of the images involve paint that is dripping, fading or peeling, but the images remain photographic, not painterly. The patterns were formed by random processes until they were captured in the photographic frame—they were not carefully constructed like the paintings of Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists, so they display quite different surface detail. Every image is a celebration of the unexpected beauty of that Australian icon, the corrugated-iron fence. After all, it is the delicacy of detail and the harshness of ground that is so characteristic of corrugated iron.
I began photographing corrugated iron in 1994 in a carpark in Kalgoorlie WA. I remain fascinated by the visual complexity of the material.
Corrugated iron has become a clichéd symbol for down-to-earth Australia and for improvisation in the face of adversity. The symbol suggests rugged simplicity and disregard for visual niceties. It may even imply ugliness. But the material itself belies the clichés. It isn’t hard to find rich varieties of colour and shape on a fence—it’s simply a matter of slowing down and taking time to notice. Each sheet of iron acquires an intricate pattern, a record of the weather and the works of men. These markings, like markings on the land, begin to hint at countless little tales of ordinary things.
The appeal of these patterns often lies in their intricacies or their subtlety. Traditional silver-based film is the only way to do justice to them—a screen on a personal computer doesn’t have sufficient resolution, and web browsers compromise the subtlety even more. The images on these webpages are therefore only thumbnails of the originals.
- Jas Hugonnet for his excellent advice
- Nick Lhuede for his invaluable expert help with the installation
- Frances Spurgin for her patience and continuing professional support