horizontal slowness (2015)

Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize 2015

⬿ Selected Works

‘Horizontal Slowness’ is a geological term that describes the rate of seismic movement through the earth’s mantle. The mantle is principally solid, but in geological time it behaves as a viscous fluid.

The work horizontal slowness extends the horizon of the collaborative work The Third Space performed with Narelle Jubelin on May Day, 2012. Expanding on the performative spaces proposed in RoseLee Goldberg’s essay Space as Praxis (1975) and footnoted in the context of modernist architecture and local community in Tasmania, Horizontal Slowness draws on the notion of a steady progression of shifting inhabitation through natural, conceptual and constructed layers of the architect Esmond Dorney’s house atop Fort Nelson in Hobart.

The work comprises a sequence of film and video stills. The film stills are drawn from Super 8 film footage shot in February this year, capturing the ruins of the original Dorney house (1949), built over the southern most battery of the fort, and subsequently destroyed by bushfire. The video stills are compiled from documentation of the Tasmanian Theatre Company’s 2014 production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1972) performed in the interior communal areas of the current, third construction, of the Dorney family home (1978).

The video documentation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf conveys two viewpoints of single scenes within the play. Each scene is located in the ‘conversation pit’, a core-feature of Dorney’s design that appropriated the gun emplacement as a sunken lounge area. Each video still is a composite overlay of the opposing viewpoints for that scene.

The film footage capturing the (1949) house ruins echoes the documentation of the play, with two cameras set up from different viewpoints to capture the same scene: one camera loaded with colour stock, the other loaded with black and white. Each film was shot at 24 frames per second. Each film still image is a digital overlay of the multiple frames within one second’s capture from ‘duelling’ viewpoints of the site; both generating and reflecting subtle shifts in the camera’s tracking. The conflation of analogue and digital technologies fuses different frameworks to animate layered transitional zones of the cultural, environmental, personal and political tensions of the site.

Each print is embedded in its own bespoke slab of concrete, as miniature monuments, where the weight of the modern ‘rock’ grounds the compressed overlay of provisional film and video still images. Borrowing from conceptual artist Vito Acconci forming a ‘page ground’ akin to his poetry before his movement to a performative ́powerfied’.

horizontal slowness reflects a complex conceptual terrain where eras of architecture (Dorney’s), performance (Albee’s) and critical thought (Goldberg’s) merge. The contested spaces of modernist architecture in Australia collide with spaces of occupation within the fraught Tasmanian landscape and the highly charged domestic battlefield as presented in Albee’s play. The slow geological narrative proposes a fluid contemporary, if temporary, re- habitation of this modernist ruin.

Materials: digital print on archival photo rag paper, cement