Happy navigating

Caitriona Murtagh at Brisbane’s eMEDIA 97

High and low tech, static and dynamic, permanent and transient, eMedia 97 embraced a paradigm of multimedia as the fusion of diverse artistic practices with emphasis on interaction and participation. Conceived by the Queensland Multimedia Arts Centre as a vehicle to allow Queensland artists to develop, realise and distribute multimedia art, the festival’s hybrid of performance, photography, sculpture, internet and rave culture created an arena for vigorous engagement between art, technology and audience.

Sculpture and photography combined with CD-ROM installation in the 240 Volt group show at Metro Arts, to envelop the viewer in a perpetually evolving mesh of structures, images and sounds. A (seemingly) random sonic loop of grunting, pissing, laughter, coughing and teeth brushing accompanied Mark Parslow and Stuart Kirby’s In the Wolerverine’s Web. Its dissonant tones bled into the space around Nicole Voevodin’s mystery cabinets, Cash Corpus #3, and James Lamar-Peterson’s animal sculptures fabricated from obsolete circuitry. Simultaneously menacing, cute and annoying, the soundscape was, intermittently, peppered with gunfire from Lucy Francis’s wicked reworking of the grassy knoll: Jackie O. Clicking on a screen-sized image of the first lady, the viewer provides a catalyst for the assassination (and Jackie’s pupils ricochet satisfyingly around her eye sockets in tempo with the shots). Gunshots reverberated throughout the gallery, over the delicate seaside ice-cream van chimes that attended Benjamin Elliot’s vacation theme interactive photography. The intricate aural and visual environment fluctuated constantly as viewers navigated sculpture and interacted with installations.

Elaborating on the possibilities of audience participation in a mixed media event, Gigga Bash (Global Overload) produced by Jeremy Hynes of MomEnTum Multimedia, featured the interior of the Hub Cafe covered with 450 metres of alfoil by Cyber Nautilus Performance Group. Members of the audience were wrapped into the environment with alfoil—living sculptures at 16 work stations linked to the internet, searching for visually stimulating material to project to the remaining spectators. Simultaneously, the event was filmed, remixed with audience-generated images from the net, distorted with other footage and extruded back onto a nine screen TV wall which was itself in turn filmed and re-projected, condensing the media into a ultra concentrated compound of film, production, cyberspace and audience collaboration.

Metal framed novajet prints in Close as Life at Secummb Space, the Plastic Energy dance party with visuals by Troy Innocent, music by Ollie Olsen and Cyber-femme Griller Girls exhibition, further expanded the diversity of the festival, providing additional opportunities for engagement and interaction with a variety of technologies and practices. Workshops in multimedia authoring and the internet, lectures from Dorian Dowse on the implications multimedia holds for fine art, Troy Innocent on the possibilities of artificial life and video conferencing from New York with internet artists discussing issues facing web designers in the US and Australia, meant that eMedia avoided becoming a superficial feast of images and sound, achieving instead, a forum for erudite discussion of and energetic experimentation with multimedia.

eMedia97 QMAC; Metro Arts; QUT; Qld Museum; Hub Cafe; Secummb Space; Out!; Quantm; Brisbane May 23-June 6

RealTime issue #20 Aug-Sept 1997 pg. 26

© Caitriona Murtagh; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 1997