John you have a new work for the Library Artspace and Airy show Visible Horizon, tell me about the work?
The new work is a short video piece, about a minute and a half long, titled Wall. The work was a response to the brief for the Visible Horizon exhibition which is an exchange exhibition between AIRY (Artist in Residence Yamanashi) and Fusetsu Gallery in Kofu, Japan, and the Library Artspace in Melbourne, Australia.
The curators, Kate Hill and Zoe Evershed had given us all a brief:
“A Visible Horizon is a place where the earth and sky meet. It is a universal concept that signifies the point at which time and space connect. Thinking about time can lead us to thinking about the future, and imagining what it may hold. Thinking about space can lead us to thinking about a far off land, and imagining this reality.
In this exhibition, we ask; what do Japanese contemporary artists imagine a far off place, Australia, to be like? What do Australian contemporary artists imagine Japan to be like? And collectively, what do Japanese and Australian Artists imagine the future to be like?”
I had recently visited the town in Scotland where my grandmother was born and had taken video footage of a wall around a church cemetery there. While ruminating on what to do for the exchange project I had been putting together a short video of a drive-through of the town to show my relatives at Christmas, when I came across the video footage of the wall. It struck me as the perfect start for a work for the exhibition. It responded to the brief, in terms of time and space and thinking about a far off land, but resisted it at the same time.
The sound track is constructed from some chanting sounds inspired by Gyuto monks, some silly sounds by me and some tinkly percussion sounds by Nat Grant, which she had given me on a previous occasion.
How do you think this work relates to and fits into your recent video art practice?
I think the work relates to almost all of my past work. It is very similar to The River (2010), another video piece in which nothing really happens, and to Propeller (2009), a computer animation, again in which nothing much also happens. Though in Wall perhaps the “nothing really happens” is more accentuated. In the previous two works at least there was something moving to watch. Here the only saving grace is the sound track.
Visible Horizon is the line where the earth and the sky meet - tell me a little more about the intent behind this exhibition?
I think Kate was doing an artist in residency at AIRY, and the Library Artspace was keen on the idea of exchange exhibitions generally — and the rest followed from there.
Both exhibitions open on Friday 17 Feb. The Library Artspace exhibition continues until 10 March. At AIRY the show runs from 16 to 26 Feb, and at Fusetsu gallery it runs from 17 to 26 Feb.
Tell me about the installation space?
My work will be shown, along with another video work by Curtis Moyes, in a tea house adjoining Fusetsu Gallery. One other video work, by Zoe Eveshed, will be shown in another part of the Fusetsu Gallery. All other works will be show in the AIRY gallery.
On the Australian end, all the Japanese work will be shown at the Library Artspace, Melbourne.
Your observations of the exhibition at The LIbrary Artspace?
Curtis’ video piece involved video footage of lights shining on a wall (from passing traffic?) in darkened room in his house. The sound-track was ambient noise from passing traffic. The work was a lot like mine in a way, in that nothing really happens. However, his work was much more subtle than mine and really rather beautiful, where mine was more raw and perhaps a little obnoxious.
Zoe Evershed contributed a video consisting of what looked like negative video footage of hands in a shallow tub of water — hands touching or almost touching, talking about communication I think — really quite lyrical.
Anna Maria Pescia contributed a work made from cloth and paper and stitching, something about a ship afloat on a sea of paper — I only saw it half out of it’s packaging — continuing her ongoing romance with materials. That was all of the works I have seen from the Australian end.
In the Library are the works from Japan. Except for two video works all the works are supposed to be no bigger than A3 and no thicker than 1cm — works on paper, photographic works, a couple with hand or machine stitching, and etching/collage, a couple of artist books, a pair of works made from what looked like MDF or similar, etc. etc. One of the video works deals with a kind of popular exercise that is promoted by the government in Japan and the other is footage taken while walking down the street. Two cameras were used (maybe iPhones), one pointing forward, the other facing the rear so you can see where the artist had been. The final was mixed onto a split screen, so that you could see the forward shot and the backward shot at the same time.