The story of Erica Seccombe's Nanoplastica begins with a residency at the ANU Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering when Dr Tim Senden x-rayed a variety of miniature plastic models from the artists collection on the Microcomputer Tomograph (XTC). In modern and post-modern times the "art of the everyday" has made frequent attempts to raise objects of humble origins way above their station and into the heady heights of masterpiece. Even so, there is something particularly "sad" about Seccombe's tiny plastic toys, representing as they do, a point at which consumerism and futility meet. Using scientific equipment that is rarely accessible to artists, Seccombe effects an extraodinary transformation in which her work becomes "a metaphor for contemporary scientific techniques and processes such as nanotechnology to examine issues of visualisation, replication and simulation of the natural world."
Image: Erica Seccombe, installation detail, 2008.
Image: Carla Cescon, installation detail, 2008.
"Touching Space explores the intersections between sign language and English, between codified sign systems and the half unconscious gestures we all make, between intelligible images and abstraction... The moving hands in Touching Space have been abstracted to a point where they begin to evoke other imagery, medical imagery, strange skeletal creatures, trees and landscapes according to different viewers. I am interested in the way people’s brains can get caught in a kind of feedback loop, that experience of having a word on the tip of your tongue but not being able to access it. This has inspired the construction of images that move between being recognisable and being somehow abstract so the viewer has the imaginative space to respond and construct their own imagery.
Image: Ellis Hutch, installation view, 2008.
"The board bow you stealthily utilise to deliver your funny and familiar magazine and TV inspired messages manage a hit to the heart of material and consumer culture. Are you suggesting that the TV and IT generation should change position on the couch, reach for a GPS and take a new course through the mall, perhaps even look out the window? By placing us, the distant viewer, in scenes such as Abu Ghraib, I get the feeling we are all deeply implicated. This brings a double edge to our sense of cultural belonging and patriotism... We take in your images and objects like any others we may see on TV or in magazines, but after the initial wise crack you don't really give us any answers. We are left wandering around the mall thinking and feeling and that is exactly what you want. You are telling us to put away the facial mist, pull our sporting beanies over up from over our eyes and take a long hard look at who and where we are."
From an open letter to Bernie Slater by Julian Laffan.
Image: Bernie Slater, installation view, 2008.
Image: Akira Akira, installation view, 2008.
"In her latest exhibition, Tess is showing the photos she has taken at gigs alongside the images she has made of buildings and spaces. Although it isn't immediately obvious, there are strong connections between the two subjects. "The gig photos aren't so much about the music but about showing an internal side of our static environment. The whole show is more about psychological space. It's about buildings and building something, construction and deconstruction... The way things go up and come down as a product the tangible things that matter - our family and friends."
Image: Tess Stewart-Moore, installation view, 2008.
Image: Steven Holland, installation view, 2008.
Featuring Sonja Barford, Kress Beecher, Rosalind Lemoh, Owen Lewis, Fiona Little, Madeleine and Amy Nguyen. At one time, set amongst the cottage gardens, creaky floorboards and palpable history of the Gorman Arts Centre, studio residents of the Canberra Contemporary Art Space are pushing boundaries and forging new histories in artistic practice. This coming together of the very very old and the very very new is not unusual in the arts, yet is rare in the creative landscape of Canberra. In a young city obsessed with cleanliness, modernity and order, it is a rare thing for buildings to survive at all, let alone be handed over to creative industry. Built in 1924 as a hostel for a new, young workforce, Gorman House is today a creative hub and crux of the Canberra arts community. CCAS has claim on three studios within the complex, and each year shares them between a formidable group of emerging talents in the form of the Studio Residents Program.
From essay by Yolande Norris.
Image: installation view, 2008.
The Rat and The Octopus, which shares its name with a traditional Tongan folkloric tale, takes a step towards the convergence of past and present. Memories of this story were revived when Tupou discovered a book given to him in childhood by his grandparents on their return from a visit to Tonga. The work uses and repeats images from stories once passed down from generation to generation via the traditions of story telling - stories that are now kept alive through indirect means such as lost books. There is a very clear sense of loss in The Rat and The Octopus, of removal and distance in regards to the legacies of culture. Tapa, the Tahitian word for the bark cloth common to Polynesian and Melanesian societies, form the basis of nearly all Samuel Tupou's works as he uses its familiar designs to explore the chasms between traditional Tongan customs and life in the fast lane of the information super highway. Visually backgrounded and conceptually foregrounded, tapa provides a constant through which Tupou contrasts and attempts to reconcile aspects of his Tongan heritage with his experience of Australia today. He is isolated by a lack of knowledge in the language and traditional customs of Tonga and feels that through works such as these, disassembled heritage can be reassembled.
Image: Samuel Tupou, detail of The Rat and The Octopus, 2007.
Image: John Conomos, 2009.