rewarding the field

inaugural queensland premier’s new media arts award

Peter Alwast, Everything, 2008,

Peter Alwast, Everything, 2008,

Peter Alwast, Everything, 2008,

In a significant boost for new media arts, the Queensland Government, in partnership with the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), has instituted a major national prize of $75,000 for an Australian new media art work from a selected nine judged by Tony Ellwood, Director, Queensland Art Gallery; Melinda Rackham, Executive Director, Australian Network for Art and Technology; and Liz Hughes, Executive Director, Experimenta Media Arts.

The inaugural award was announced on October 31 by Premier Anna Bligh. The judges also highly commended the multi-media installation Earthstar 2008 by David Haines and Joyce Hinterding.

Melinda Rackham in her account of the selected works wrote, “The Premier’s Award recipient Peter Alwast’s 3D-rendered, visually luscious hyper-realistic space, titled Everything, utilises a multi-layered mashup aesthetic, inserting divergent source material seamlessly into a three channel video installation” (“Big Bang for Australian Media Arts”, ANAT Communications, email, Nov 11).

Not since the establishment of the $25,000 acquisitive biennial Ann Landa Award (the first award exhibition in Australia for moving image and new media work, inaugurated in 2005 and administered and shown by the Art Gallery of New South Wales) has there been an award that now ranks in value with prizes in literature and visual arts. It’s a timely ackowledgement for the whole new media arts field given difficulties artists have faced in recent years.

As well as the major prize there’s a $25,000 Premier’s New Media Art Scholarship for an emerging Queensland artist to travel and study. This was awarded to Leah Barclay, a Queensland Conservatorium of Music graduate whose “new media sound compositions draw on environmental and political themes.” Barclay is also co-director with Kayte New of the inaugural Ignition new media and film festival coming up in Noosa, May 2009.

New media arts is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence, if more evidently under the banner “media arts.” This new award for both established and emerging artists will give hope to the many artists who have dedicated themselves to the creative mastering of ever-mutating technologies. It’s good to see the Queensland Government leading the way in publicly acknowledging their skill, commitment and artistry. RT

On February 7, 2009, audiences in parts of regional Queensland can join finalist Adam Nash for a tour of his Seventeen unsung songs 2007 in the online environment of Second Life.

Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award, GoMA, Nov 1-Feb 8

Peter Alwast is exhibiting at GBK gallery in Sydney, opening November 27; www.gbk.com.au.

RealTime issue #88 Dec-Jan 2008 pg. 25

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1 December 2008